The Holocaust Art Restitution Project reports today that a new version of Senate Bill 2212, the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act that would have amended the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to preclude claims against defendants whose “commercial activity” is limited to the loan of artwork whose ownership is in dispute, but which are immunized from seizure pursuant to the Immunity from Seizure Act (22 U.S.C. § 2459). The Art Law Report covered the bill extensively last year. Although the bill as previously passed would have exempted Holocaust claims from the exception, the bill in broad terms was designed to prevent another Malevich v. City of Amsterdam situation, in which the very loan of a painting immunized from seizure was itself held to satisfy the commercial activity jurisdictional requirements of the FSIA.
The last bill had the support of the Association of Art Museum Directors, and several senators, but it never received consideration from the Judiciary Committee, let alone a vote, before expiring at the end of the last Congressional term. if another bill is coming, it will be interested to see what has changed. Its critics are certainly ready.