Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Congress Moves to Pass New Law Protecting Foreign Art Lenders from Lawsuits

Congress is moving swiftly and quietly to give American museums something they've sought for years -- a law granting foreign governments near total immunity from lawsuits when they loan pre-approved artworks to the institutions.

The proposed law has already been passed by the House and is now under review by the Senator Judiciary Committee.

The action apparently stems from deep unhappiness with a seven-year-old federal court decision in a case brought against the City of Amsterdam by the heirs of Kazimir Malevich, who were seeking to recover some of the artist's paintings.  The museum community and now Congress contend that the court's ruling, which opened up foreign art lenders to suits for damages, has chilled loans from some foreign governments because they fear being hauled into court.

Some experts, though, suggest that the new legislation was motivated, at least in part, by pressure to mollify Russia, which has instigated an embargo on loaning art to U.S. museums because of an unrelated lawsuit brought by the Jewish sect Chabad.  That embargo is now in its second year.

Read more in my article in the New York Observer, here.

I apologize for blogging so lightly of late -- I have had some writing gigs for publications both here and in EuropeCheck back soon for some posts already in the works.

Photo of Capitol Building from Wikipedia.
Text (c) 2012 Laura Gilbert.