(CN) – An Armenian church sued the Getty Museum in Los Angeles Superior Court, demanding the return of 7 pages of an illuminated Bible created by “the master illuminator T’oros Roslin” in 1256. The Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America claims the 7 pages of the “Zeyt’un Gospel” were “lost or stolen during the Armenian Genocide” of 1915-1918.
Most of the illuminated manuscript is house at the Mesrob Mashotots Madenataran museum in Yerevan, Armenia, but the 7 pages of the “Canon tables” are “wrongfully in the possession, custody and control” of the J. Paul Getty Trust, in the Getty Museum, according to the complaint.
The church claims that when the Getty acquired the 7 pages it “knew or should have known that the Zeyt-un Gospel manuscript pages were stolen, and belonged to the Catholicosate.”
The Bible was created for Constantine I, nearly two centuries before the fall of Constantinople.
T’oros Roslin (ca. 1210-1270) “was the most prominent Armenian manuscript illuminator in the High Middle Ages,” according to the complaint.
The lawsuit is liable to have international reverberations, as Turkey refuses to admit that the killing of 1.5 million Armenians was genocide. Turkey’s secular government fulminates at any claim of genocide, especially from the United States. Turkey claims the killings were just war.
The Armenian Church wants the pages returned, quiet title, and damages of $35 million, trebled. It is represented by Vartkes Yeghiayan of Glendale.