The 1990s saw an exponential growth in the number and political sensitivities of claims by original owners of stolen art against good-faith purchasers of that art. These cases have challenged courts, threatened international relations, created public relations nightmares for museums, and generally shaken the art world. In defining whose claim should prevail as between original owners and good-faith purchasers, states and nations have adopted significantly varied rules to reach divergent resolutions of complicated issues of public policy and private right. In the relatively rare case in which the original owner/good-faith purchaser dispute is connected with a single state or nation, the application of that sovereign's chosen rules presumably furthers the sovereign's interest. When, as is much more often the case, the journey of the art and the domicile of the claimants link the dispute to more than one state or nation, the multijurisdictional character of the case may substantially complicate the issue of ownership. When implicated jurisdictions have been driven by different policy preferences to adopt different ownership rules, the result on a micro-level will be a choice of law that may well further a single state or nation's interest. The result on a macro-level is virtually certain to undermine all relevant policy aspirations. This Article explores the cause and effect of this universally unattractive result.
Patricia Youngblood Reyhan,
A Chaotic Palette: Conflict of Laws in Litigation Between Original Owners and Good-Faith Purchasers of Stolen Art,
50 Duke Law Journal
Available at: http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/dlj/vol50/iss4/1