Art Law Report

Jurisdictional Law Hailed as Impetus to End Russian Art Loan Embargo that is Actually Unaffected by that Law

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on January 6, 2017 at 12:39 PM

With reports that Russia is considering abandoning the nearly five year old embargo on loans of cultural artifacts into the United States, the cited connection between that willingness and the recent passage of the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act (FCEJICA) bears closer scrutiny that it has received to date.  If the unnecessary embargo were to come to an end it would be welcome news, but Russia’s claim that the new law is the reason is hard to square with the history of the issue.  It cannot be stated emphatically enough that the new law makes Russian art loans no more or less safe from seizure than they were before, because the law governing seizure of cultural objects (the Immunity from Seizure Act, or IFSA) has not changed.  Russia’s penchant for framing the question as something for which it needed protection is thus frustrating because it is simply incorrect.  The Russian loan embargo has been political theater from the time in began in 2012 in retaliation after Russian defendants lost a key litigation in Washington, DC, and the new law was passed in response to events that had nothing to do with Russia. 

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Topics: Alfred Flechtheim, Russia, 22 U.S.C. § 2259, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(3), FSIA, IFSA, Immunity from Seizure Act, Chabad, Welfenschatz, Malevich v. City of Amsterdam, Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional

Restitution Legislation: HEAR Act and Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Clarification Act Move Forward

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on September 18, 2016 at 5:13 PM

 

Two restitution related bills have advanced past the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate: the Holocaust Expropriated Art Act (S.B. 2763, the HEAR Act), and the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Clarification Act, S.B. 3155.  Their advancement for consideration by the full Senate is interesting since in many ways they are at cross purposes with each other.  The analytical coverage of each has also been somewhat frustrating insofar as much of the reasons expounded by their proponents do not really describe what the bills would do.  The HEAR Act would not restitute any Nazi looted art, rather, it would harmonize as federal law the statute of limitations on such claims.  The Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Clarification Act would not “reward” Russia or other foreign museums with art claimed by others, it would eliminate a jurisdictional scenario that has only happened once.  The fact is that both bills are of dubious merit because they are of limited effect, and may cause more harm than good.

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Topics: Legislation, Nazi-looted art, FSIA, Restitution, World War II, IFSA, HEAR Act, Ted Cruz, S.B. 2763, S.B. 3155, Foreign Cultural Exchange, Jurisdictional Clarification Act

Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Clarification Act and the Immunity from Seizure Act—Status Quo Is Often Misunderstood

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on June 15, 2015 at 6:04 AM

There has been additional commentary in the last week on the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Clarification Act, including this piece at Hyperallergic in which I’m quoted. The piece reminds me to revisit a confusing subject latent in the whole discussion: immunity from suit versus immunity from seizure. Despite what one frequently reads, the current bill would have no effect at all on immunity from seizure, which seems to be most people’s concern. It would affect only a small category of exceptions for immunity from suit, that is, who can be sued, not what can be loaned into the United States.

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Topics: Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Clarifica, Amsterdam, Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, U.S. Federal Republic of Germany, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, FSIA, Restitution, Kingdom of Spain, IFSA, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Immunity from Seizure Act, Museums, 28 U.S.C. § 1605, Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity, State Department

Immunity from Seizure in Focus—Loans from Cuba for Exhibitions on Hold

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 5, 2015 at 6:39 AM

A recent story in The Art Newspaper spotlights a number of lingering issues related to stolen art, the power of U.S. courts to seize property to satisfy liability, and the role of the Immunity from Seizure Act, 22 U.S.C. § 2459 (IFSA). As we discussed recently, the prospect of a material change in U.S.-Cuba relations, which as a commercial matter haven’t existed for more than 50 years, has broad implications for the art market. Just as importantly, there are many, many unanswered questions about the fate of property in Cuba that changed hands or was nationalized as part of the Cuban Revolution in the late 1950s and onward. Simply put, there are thousands of claims worth billions of dollars for all sorts of property that exiles left behind or had taken from them. While it is still a long way off, one impact of potentially normalized relations is the prospect of sorting through those claims.

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Topics: Legislation, Malevich, Atlanta, Boston College Law School, The Art Newspaper, Immunity from Seizure, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Wifredo Lam: Imagining New Worlds, 22 U.S.C. § 2459, City of Amsterdam, High Museum, McMullen Museum at Boston College, IFSA, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Portrait of Wally, Immunity from Seizure Act, Museums, Chabad, Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity, State Department, Cuba

With New Congress, Resale Royalties Bill and Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act Are Dead (Again)

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on January 5, 2015 at 9:49 AM

A quirk of parliamentary procedure is that any bill in Congress exists only for so long as that particular Congress is in session. This week, the 114th Congress took its seats, meaning that any bill not passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and signed by the President, is a dead letter. This is the fate of many, many bills—indeed most.

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Topics: Legislation, Resale Royalties, Chuck Close, Moral Rights, Nazi-looted art, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S. § 1605, Art Law Day, 114th Congress, 22 U.S.C. § 2459, City of Amsterdam, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), FSIA, expropriation exception”, droit de suite, IFSA, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Senate, House of Representatives, Immunity from Seizure Act, President, Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity

Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act Passes House of Representatives Overwhelmingly

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 7, 2014 at 2:57 AM

The Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act (HR 4292) passed the House of Representatives yesterday, 388 to 4. Voting against were Reid Ribble (R, WI), Mark Sanford (R, SC), Marlin Stuzman (R, IN), and Justin Amash (R, MI). As discussed here previously, the bill would amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1605 (FSIA) to clarify when a cultural object loaned with immunity from seizure pursuant to the Immunity from Seizure Act (IFSA) can also constitute the “commercial activity” element necessary to overcome sovereign immunity and bring a suit in U.S. federal court. Invocation of the FSIA has, since Altmann v. Republic of Austria up through the cases pending against Hungary and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection pending today, become the go-to strategy to seek federal jurisdiction over World War II/Nazi-looted art restitution cases in particular.

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Topics: Reid Ribble, Mark Sanford, Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Art & Cultural Heritage Law Committee of the A, Marlin Stuzman, Nazi-looted art, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Malevicz v. City of Amsterdam, 22 U.S.C. § 2459, Justin Amash, FSIA, Restitution, HR 4292, World War II, IFSA, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Altmann v. Republic of Austria, Immunity from Seizure Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1605, Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity

Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act Reintroduced in House of Representatives, Would Ban Use of Exhibition Loan as Basis for Federal Court Jurisdiction

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 31, 2014 at 4:04 AM

Steve Chabot (R-OH) has reintroduced the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act (H.R. 4292), after a previous attempt to amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act with regard to the loan of cultural objects failed to become law in 2012. The text of the March 25, 2014 bill is identical to the version that passed in the House in 2012. Its co-sponsors are John Conyers (D-MI) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and it has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

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Topics: Bob Goodlatte, Cornelius Gurlitt, Malewicz v. City of Amsterdam, Girolamo Romano, Gurlitt Collection, 22 U.S.C. § 2459, Christ Carrying the Cross Dragged by a Rogue, 517 F.Supp.2d 322, FSIA, Restitution, David Toren, 19 U.S.C. § 1595a, Steve Chabot, Orrin Hatch, House Judiciary Committee, 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(2), 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(3), Senate Bill 2212, World War II, IFSA, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Altmann v. Republic of Austria, Portrait of Wally, John Conyers, Immunity from Seizure Act, Dianne Feinstein Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Federal Republic of Germany, 28 U.S.C. § 1605, H.R. 4292, Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity

U.S. Again Asks Court to Ignore Russian Defiance of Chabad Judgment, and for Advance Notice to Hinder Plaintiffs’ Exercise of their Rights

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 25, 2014 at 6:30 AM

In response to the recent request by the Agudas Chasidei Chabad plaintiffs for an interim judgment on the compounding sanctions judgment for the Russian Federation’s refusal to comply with a 2010 judgment to return the ancestral library of the movement’s leader (Rebbe), the United States has filed a statement of position and asked the U.S. District Court to ignore Russia’s willful defiance of that judgment. The statement of position cites some credible post-judgment remedy law, but it is mostly a re-hashing of the previously statement filed by the U.S. which the court declined to adopt when it sanctioned the Russian defendants last year. The U.S. position also continues to argue that letting diplomatic avenues run their course is the prudent move, even though there is not the slightest indication that Russia is paying U.S. diplomats any mind whatsoever. More worriedly, the U.S. asks that the plaintiffs be required to advise the government before taking any further action. It is hard to avoid the irony that the United States is asking for an order that its citizens be required to advise the government of their intent to vindicate their rights against Russia.

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Topics: Yossarian, Immanuel Kant, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Rebbe, Agudas Chasidei Chabad, Catch 22, Categorical Imperative, Russian Federation, FSIA, Restitution, IFSA, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Joseph Heller, Immunity from Seizure Act

Best Case for Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act (S.B. 2212) May Have been Made by its Sponsors

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on June 5, 2012 at 5:23 AM

Perhaps lost in the coverage about Senate Bill 2212 (the Art Law Report no less than anyone else) to amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to preclude claims against defendants whose “commercial activity” is limited to the loan of artwork whose ownership is in dispute, is the case made by the sponsors of the bill themselves, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D, CA) and Orrin Hatch (R, UT).

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Topics: Nazi stolen art, Malewicz v. City of Amsterdam, Dianne Feinstein, Immunity from Seizure, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(3), FSIA, SB 2212, Restitution, 22 U.S.C. 2459, Orrin Hatch, Senate Bill 2212, World War II, IFSA, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Immunity from Seizure Act, Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity

Despite Criticism of S.B. 2212’s Proposed Amendment to the FSIA, New Law Would Not Enable Stolen Art

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 24, 2012 at 6:04 AM

Doreen Carvajal of the New York Times this week addressed Senate Bill 2212, (the “Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act”) this week, a bill approved in March by the House of Representatives.

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Topics: Legislation, Russian art embargo, Nazi stolen art, Russia, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 22 U.S.C. § 2459, Christ Carrying the Cross Dragged by a Rogue, Collections, FSIA, SB 2212, Restitution, World War II, IFSA, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Portrait of Wally, Doreen Carvajal, Immunity from Seizure Act, New York Times, Chabad, Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity

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