Art Law Report

FinCEN Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Regulate Dealers in Antiquities

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on September 24, 2021 at 11:39 AM

The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) today published in the Federal Register notice of proposed regulations related to the implementation of amendments to the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) regarding the trade in antiquities pursuant to last year’s Anti-Money Laundering Act. After relative silence over the nine months since the AMLA was passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, FinCEN somewhat surprisingly still has not drafted any proposed regulations, but rather seeks additional comment on a series of substantive questions. This effort to gather meaningful data is a positive step, but raises concerns about interested parties’ ability to respond by the 30 day deadline, and whether FinCEN will have time to incorporate those comments into regulations that must be promulgated (after further public notice and comment) by the end of 2021.

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Topics: Antiquities, AML, Money laundering, FinCEN, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Bank Secrecy Act, National Defense Authorization Act, Treasury Department, BSA, Anti-Money Laundering Act, Byzantium

FinCEN Signals Suspicion of Art Market Even Before AML Study Begins

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 23, 2021 at 9:52 AM

In connection with the late-2020 amendment to the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) to include “dealers in antiquities” as a result of its inclusion in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has issued a notice of “Efforts Related to Trade in Antiquities and Art.” The notice is a combination of guidance to entities now covered by the BSA, but it is also a potential backdoor around the entities that Congress chose not to regulate with respect to potential or perceived money laundering risks: art dealers. It also raises concerns about the objectivity of the forthcoming study of the art market that Congress instructed FinCEN to conduct. In either event, it is further evidence that momentum continues to gather for stricter oversight and regulation of the U.S. art market, and the importance of the art trade demonstrating more transparency and diligence if it hopes to modify or mitigate that regulation.

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Topics: The Art Newspaper, Nazi-looted art, Antiquities, Terrorist financing, Responsible Art Market initiative, Money laundering, FinCEN, A Tragic Fate, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Illicit Art and Antiquities Trafficking Protection, suspicious activity reports, Corporate Transparency Act of 2019, Bank Secrecy Act, National Defense Authorization Act

REMINDER—Art Law Day Next Friday, November 7, 2014

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 29, 2014 at 9:40 AM

Art Law Day at the Appraisers Association of America’s annual conference is next Friday, November 7, 2014 at NYU's Kimmel Center. Sullivan & Worcester LLP will be sponsoring the event as a Friend of Art Law Day this year, about which we are very excited.

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Topics: The Changing Laws for the Sale of Endangered Speci, Monica Kreshik, NYU SCPS, International Director of Restitution, The Frick Collection, miGavel Auctions/Lark Mason Associates, Resale Royalties, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Betty Krulik Fine Art Limited, American Royalties Too Act, Michael McCullough, Pearlstein & McCullough LLP, authentication, IRS/Tax Free Exchange, Richard Levin, New York University, American Alliance of Museums, Suzanne Goldstein Baker, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP, Art Law Day, Department of Environmental Conservation, Ulf Biscof, New Legislation for Authentication Experts, Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP, Jerrold Nadler, Christie's, Appraisal, Detroit Institute of Arts, Amy Goldrich, Betty Krulik, Restitution, Randi Schuster, Events, Christopher Marinello Art Recovery International L, Cahill Partners LLP, Elizabeth von Habsburg Winston Art Group, Monica Dugot, Copyright, Appraisers Association of America, Marianne Rosenberg, Terry Shtob, Antiquities, Ford W. Bell, Craig Hoover, Bankruptcy and the Detroit Institute of Arts, Lark Mason, Kimmel Center, Wildlife Trade and Conservation Branch, Detroit Bankruptcy, Diane Wierbicki, Investment Property Exchange Services, Samuel Sachs II, Biscof & Paetow Rechtsanwälte, Withers Bergman LLP, Judith Bresler, Paul Rosenberg

Appeals Court Rules Mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer Will Stay at St. Louis Art Museum Because Government Missed Deadlines

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on June 12, 2014 at 7:10 AM

The Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit has affirmed the dismissal of the U.S. government’s attempt to seize the Mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer from the St. Louis Art Museum. Despite the government’s persistent characterization the mask as stolen before it entered the country, the civil forfeiture case has been rebuffed. The narrow issue was whether the trial court had properly denied the government’s request to amend its complaint after an initial challenge, but as the 8th Circuit put it, “Underlying that issue is an attempt to expand the government’s forfeiture powers at the likely expense of museums and other good faith purchasers in the international marketplace for ancient artifacts.” That latter question will have to wait another day, because the case was resolved on the government’s missed deadlines and nothing more.

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Topics: Mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer, St. Louis Art Museum, Department of Justice, Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e), the Art Law Report, Restitution, 19 U.S.C. § 1595a, United States, Antiquities, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Customs, Civil Forfeiture, Ancient Egypt

MFA and Harvard To Keep Iranian Antiquities, FSIA/Seizure Questions for Museums Left Unanswered

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 15, 2013 at 8:00 AM

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a win for the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and Harvard University concerning possession of a number of Iranian antiquities. The ruling left open, however, some interesting questions about the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). In particular, the First Circuit did not have to rule on whether antiquities in a museum are “property” of a source country that could be used to satisfy an unrelated judgment, or whether a museum displaying an object from a foreign country makes the object “used in commercial activity” such that it is no longer immune from seizure under the FSIA.

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Topics: cultural property, Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002, 28 U.S.C. § 1610, 22 U.S.C. § 2259, Rubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 116 Stat. 2322, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, § 201 (a), Harvard University, Restitution, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Antiquities, Immunity from Seizure Act, Museums, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Pub. L. No. 107-297

"Restitution and Repatriation, the Return of Cultural Objects" at DePaul University Next Month

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on September 13, 2012 at 6:25 AM

Next month's symposium at DePaul University College of Law Center for Art, Museum & Cultural Heritage Law entitled "Restitution and Repatriation, the Return of Cultural Objects" looks terrific. The keynote speaker will be Lynn Nicholas of The Rape of Europa fame, and other topics include provenance research, museum acquisitions, and the moral and ethical quandaries posed by restitution and repatriation claims. The speaker lineup includes museum professionals and attorneys. Hope to see you there.

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Topics: cultural property, Lynn Nicholas, Rape of Europa, DePaul University College of Law Center for Art, Restitution, Museum & Cultural Heritage Law, World War II, Antiquities

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About the Blog


The Art Law Report provides timely updates and commentary on legal issues in the museum and visual arts communities. It is authored by Nicholas M. O'Donnell, partner in our Art & Museum Law Practice.

The material on this site is for general information only and is not legal advice. No liability is accepted for any loss or damage which may result from reliance on it. Always consult a qualified lawyer about a specific legal problem.

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