The Tiara of Saitaferne is a tiara in gold sheet,
acquired by the Louvre Museum in 1896, afterwards shown to
be a fake.
On April 1, 1896, the Louvre announced that it
had purchased a gold tiara that had belonged to the Scythian
king, Saitapharnes. The museum had purchased the priceless
artifact for a mere 200,000 gold French francs. A Greek
inscription on the tiara read 'The council and citizens of
Olbia honour the great and invincible King Saitapharnes'. To
the experts at the Louvre, the tiara confirmed an episode
dating to the late 3rd-century B.C. or early 2nd-century
B.C. According to the story, Saitapharnes had besieged the
Greek colony of Olbia and was convinced to leave the city in
peace only through the offering of expensive gifts.
Shortly after the Louvre exhibited the tiara, a number of
experts challenged it's authenticity. Among them was the
German archaeologist Adolf Furtwangler who noted stylistic
problems with the tiara's design and questioned the lack of
aging apparent on the artifact. For several years, the
Louvre defended the authenticity of its treasure.
Eventually, news of the story reached Odessa.
Two years before the Louvre made its purchase, two
dealers had commissioned Israel Rouchomovsky, a skilled
goldsmith, to make the tiara. They explained that it was a
gift for an archaeologist friend and provided Rouchomovsky
with details from recent excavations to aid his design. It
wasn't until news of the Louvre scandal reached him that
Rouchomovsky learned of the fate of his creation. He
travelled to Paris and presented himself as the maker of the
tiara. Experts at the museum refused to believe him until he
demonstrated the ability to reproduce a portion of the
crown. Embarrassed, the museum hid the object away in
storage. Rouchomovsky, on the other hand, became famous for
his work and earned a gold medal at the Paris Salon of
Decorative Arts. He lived in Paris until his death in 1934.
In 1997, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem borrowed the
infamous Tiara of Saitapharnes from the Louvre for a special
exhibition on the work of Israel Rouchomovsky. The crown had
come full circle -- from work of art, to embarrassing
forgery, and back to work of art.