Friday, April 19, 2024

U.S. to Protect Foreign Artworks from Seizure

On Monday, March 19, The House of Representatives passed legislation aimed at making it easier for foreign governments to lend works of art to be displayed in U.S. museums, without fear of having the artwork subjected to litigation once it enters the United States.

Under current law, works of art loaned by foreign governments to the U.S. generally are immune to certain decisions made by federal courts and cannot be confiscated. However, foreign governments engaging in commercial activity do not have immunity in federal courts. H.R. 4086 would clarify that importing works of art into the United States for temporary display would not be considered a commercial activity and thus would be immune from seizure if the President, or the President’s designee, determines that display of the works is in the national interest.

The bill further states that artwork will not be protected from claims that the piece in question was taken by Nazi Germany between Jan. 30, 1933 and May 8, 1945.

Via The Hill.

Thank to Keri Douglas for the heads up on this one.


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  • The so-called “Nazi exclusion” to HR 4086 which passed the House of Representatives as a clarification to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA) excludes, in fact, most objects of art which were misappropriated during the period of the Third Reich, the Second World War, and the Holocaust. It also does not cover items looted by Allied troops which made their way into non-US collections. It does not cover “takings” in the Far East and in Italy, two of the members of the so-called Axis. Hence, this bill which is being considered in the Senate as S2212, has the dubious distinction of prohibiting almost all possibilities of restitution of looted art works which might enter the United States under cover of “cultural display”. It is the most harmful piece of legislation to come out of Congress in decades as it denies fundamental justice to countless families of Holocaust survivors.

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