Friday, March 29, 2013

Court Denies Sotheby's Motion to Dismiss

This is a banner week for the State Department’s Cultural Heritage Center and its "Cultural Antiquities Task Force."  First the denial of the ACCG’s petition for cert.  Now this decision allowing the government to amend its complaint and denying Sotheby's motion to dismiss the government's claim that a Khmer statue up for auction must be considered "stolen" given Cambodian law.

The real concern is that this gives yet more license to the Cultural Heritage Center and its “Cultural Antiquities Task Force” to repatriate artifacts based on unclear and obscure laws of ancient vintage, even where they have only recently been “dug up” so to speak as long as there is some alleged tie-in to a known site.

The subsidiary concern is that the Sotheby’s Court, like the T-Rex Bataar Court, is treating the obligation of a foreign country to actually enforce its laws at home not as an element of the claim up front, but to be raised as a defense to forfeiture after a long slog to trial—something most forfeiture claimants simply can’t afford.

Here is the ruling courtesy of the Chasing Aphrodite blog. 

Will Sotheby's cave or fight on?  Stay tuned.

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