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.
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
Casting further doubt on the practical possibility of using the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) to recover cultural artifacts, the U.S. Government has at long last weighed in on the Chabad plaintiffs’ request for contempt sanctions against the Russian defendants, defendants who have defied for more than two years a judgment to return the library of the late Menachem Schneerson. Rightly or wrongly, this is another example of the waning utility of the FSIA to seek restitution of works held abroad, and does not bode well for the ongoing embargo by Russian museums against cultural artifact loans to the United States.
Despite some predictions (!) of a swift ruling on the Chabad plaintiffs' motion for contempt for the Russian state library defendants' refusal to comply with an order two years ago to return the library of Menachem Schneerson, the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC today solicited the views of the United States on the possibility of holding the Russian defendants in contempt for their non-compliance with the orders of the Court and their general disregard of the legal proceedings. Russian state museums have refused for more than a year to lend cultural objects into the U.S. because of the ruling, despite multiple and unassailable levels of assurances that loans of objects other than the Schneerson library are safe from any seizure related to the Chabad case.
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.
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
After months of inactivity and intimations of a possible settlement, the Chabad plaintiffs seeking the return of the Schneerson library have had enough, and have renewed their request to the District Court to sanction the defendants who have not complied with prior orders to return the library.
Topics: Alexander Avdeyev, Russian art embargo, sanctions, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Acts, Menachem Scnheerson, Collections, FSIA, Restitution, World War II, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, contempt, Chabad