Art Law Report

$43.7 Million Interim Judgment Entered Against Russia for Refusal to Restitute Chabad Library

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on September 15, 2015 at 6:05 AM

It has been quite some time since there was occasion to update the dispute between the Chabad Lubavitch movement and Russia over Chabad’s efforts to obtain the return of the library of the movement’s late rabbi Menachem Schneerson and his predecessors (each known in his respective era as the “Rebbe”). There is now a major development. The court has granted the Chabad plaintiffs’ request to turn the daily sanctions that began to accrue in 2013 into an interim judgment, that is, to tally the $50,000 daily fines to date. The U.S. District Court in Washington, DC has done so, and entered a judgment against the Russian Federation, the Russian State Military Archive, the Russian State Library, and the Russian Ministry of Culture and Mass Communication, for a total of $43.7 million. Notably, the judgment will increase automatically by $4.5 million every 90 days if not satisfied; the plaintiffs will not have to return to the court and ask for an amended judgment. Plaintiffs have already begun efforts to identify assets from which that judgment could be collected.

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Topics: Latvia, Sberbank, Nazi Germany, Russian State Military Archive, Menachem Schneerson, Russian Ministry of Culture and Mass Communication, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Rebbe, 28 U.S.C. § 1603, Russian Federation, FSIA, Restitution, Russian State Library, World War II, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Poland, Chabad Lubavitch, Soviet Union, Museums

Argentina, Bond Payment Default, Contempt, and Art Restitution Claims: An Unlikely But Important Mix

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on September 30, 2014 at 7:34 AM

When Judge Thomas P. Griesa of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan) held Argentina in contempt on Friday for the South American nation’s default on bond payments, few people likely perked up with attention about the possible implication for art restitution. But with a bit of indulgence, the connection is more important than it might first seem.

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Topics: NML Capital, Banco de la Nación, Library, Judge Thomas P. Griesa, Bank of New York Mellon, Argentina, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Rebbe, Southern District of New York, Russian Federation, FSIA, Lubavitch, Restitution, A bond, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, default, Chabad, Paul E. Singer, Art Law Report

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

Chabad Asks for Interim Judgment of $14.75 Million Against Russia for Defiance of Order to Return Rebbe's Library

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on January 29, 2014 at 12:18 PM

It has been a year since the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia instituted a fine of $50,000 per day against the Russian Federation, the Russian Ministry of Culture and Mass Communications, the Russian State Library, and the Russian State Military Archive until they comply with a 2010 judgment to return the library of Menachem Schneerson, the late charismatic leader of the worldwide Chabad Lubavitch movement, to the movement in Brooklyn, New York. And in that year, the Russian defendants have neither obeyed the original judgment, nor paid the fine. The plaintiffs have now returned to court asking for an interim money judgment for the cumulative amount—$14,750,000—a judgment that could in theory be executed on other assets.

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Topics: Russian art embargo, Russian State Military Archive, Germany, Rebbe, 28 U.S.C. § 1603, 1939, the Russian Ministry of Culture and Mass Communica, Russian Federation, the Russian State Library, FSIA, Agudas Chasei Chabad, Soviet Union, Chabad

Russia Sanctioned $50,000 per day for Defiance of Chabad Library Judgment that Led to Art and Cultural Loan Embargo

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on January 16, 2013 at 10:45 AM

In a case that has tested the principles of how a defiant sovereign defendant can be compelled to comply with a court order, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has taken an emphatic step in an order issued today. The Russian Federation, the Russian Ministry of Culture and Mass Communications, the Russian State Library, and the Russian State Military Archive will be fined collectively $50,000 per day until they comply with a 2010 judgment to return the library of Menachem Schneerson, the late charismatic leader of the worldwide Chabad Lubavitch movement, to the movement in Brooklyn, New York. Whereas the court lacked any power to compel the seizure of the library itself overseas, the plaintiffs will now be armed with a very real financial bludgeon against the defendants that have thumbed their noses at the U.S. courts for more than three years. In any case where the defendant refuses to obey a court order that court has a wide array of tools to compel compliance, but this case has been an awkward example of the limits on a court of law faced with an uncooperative party overseas. Particularly where the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1603 (the FSIA) was the basis for jurisdiction, as it is in so many wartime art restitution cases, and the fact that the 2010 judgment led to a still-ongoing embargo of art and cultural artifact loans to the United States, the decision is a significant one for the realm of art law.

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Topics: cultural property, Lativa, Menachem Schneerson, Germany, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Rebbe, 28 U.S.C. § 1603, Bolshevik, the Russian Ministry of Culture and Mass Communica, Russian Federation, the Russian State Library, FSIA, Restitution, the Russian State Military Archive, World War II, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Agudas Chasei Chabad, Poland, Russian Revolution, Soviet Union, Immunity from Seizure Act

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