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.
Topics: Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, FSIA, IFSA, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(3), Immunity from Seizure Act, 22 U.S.C. § 2259, Chabad, Russia, Malevich v. City of Amsterdam, Welfenschatz, Alfred Flechtheim
The First Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a win for the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and Harvard University concerning possession of a number of Iranian antiquities. The ruling left open, however, some interesting questions about the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). In particular, the First Circuit did not have to rule on whether antiquities in a museum are “property” of a source country that could be used to satisfy an unrelated judgment, or whether a museum displaying an object from a foreign country makes the object “used in commercial activity” such that it is no longer immune from seizure under the FSIA.
Topics: cultural property, Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002, 28 U.S.C. § 1610, 22 U.S.C. § 2259, Rubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 116 Stat. 2322, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, § 201 (a), Harvard University, Restitution, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Antiquities, Immunity from Seizure Act, Museums, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Pub. L. No. 107-297