Originally published in Law360, New York (July 30, 2012, 1:50 PM ET)
This year, visitors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art were able to view Rembrandt’s "Portrait of the Artist" (ca. 1665), on loan from the Kenwood House in North London and in the United States for the very first time. Also this year, visitors to the Philadelphia Museum of Art experienced Van Gogh Up Close, an exhibition featuring some of the artist’s most innovative paintings, on loan from private collectors and museums worldwide, including the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, and the Hague. And, on the West Coast from July 3 to Sept. 23, 2012, visitors to the J. Paul Getty Museum will have the opportunity to see Gustav Klimt: The Magic of Line, the first retrospective fully dedicated to the drawings of the popular modern artist, on loan mostly from the Albertina in Vienna.
International loans such as these allow Americans to witness the world’s most precious art close to home. Enabling this intercultural exchange is the Immunity from Seizure Act (“IFSA”), 22 U.S.C. § 2459, the United States’ guarantee to foreign art lenders that their art is immune from judicial seizure while in this country. But despite the legislative protection of the IFSA, foreign lenders have grown increasingly hesitant to make loans to U.S. museums in recent years, in large part because of the 2005 decision of the District Court for the District of Columbia in Malewicz v. City of Amsterdam.
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