As discussed earlier in the Art Law Report, the Herzog heirs’ case against several Hungarian national museums survived dismissal (apart from their claims to 11 paintings whose ownership was litigated in Hungary previously). The remaining question was how much of the case would be heard on appeal: only the narrow question of Hungary’s sovereign immunity, or other parts of the decision on the defendants’ motion to dismiss (asserting, in part, that the claims were too old, that the claims were barred as acts of state, and that the United States is not the proper forum).
With the recent decision in the Baron Herzog case dismissing some claims but allowing the bulk of the case to go forward, the next step is determining what issues can be appealed now.
The United States District Court has allowed significant parts of the claim brought by claimed heirs of Baron Mor Lipot Herzog to go forward. The decision is significant for several reasons. First, it is the most prominent restitution case currently at the trial level, and the case will now proceed into discovery of the facts. Second, the judge turned away a strong statute of limitations argument, which has been the strong trend in recent restitution cases. On the flip side, the judge found for the defendants on eleven paintings that were the subject of prior litigiation.