This bill would block legal claims to artwork on loan to museums and galleries in the U.S. from abroad.
The bill would make it so that the actions of an art dealer or foreign country exhibiting work in the U.S. would not be considered “commercial activity,” providing that said art meet the following qualifications:
- The work is brought into the U.S. for display purposes;
- The President or a proxy deems that the works are culturally significant or that their display is in the national interest;
- Notice has been published in the Federal Register.
"Under current law, works of art loaned by foreign governments generally are immune from certain decisions made by federal courts and cannot be confiscated as long as the President, or the President’s designee, determines that display of the works is in the national interest. However, commercial activity in which foreign governments are engaged does not have immunity in federal courts."
This legislation would clarify that importing a work of art into the U.S. just to show in a museum or other gallery for a temporary amount of time, is not a commercial activity. Thus, these eligible works of art would be immune from seizure.
As with anything, there are exceptions. Works of art would not be immune from seizure if they were taken "in violation of international law." This bill cites specifically any work taken during World War Two by the Nazi government or its collaborators.