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Museum Denied Exhibition Loan of Byzantine Ivory from British Museum That Should Have Been Permitted

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 8, 2015 at 8:08 AM

The Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, Massachusetts, has apparently been told by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service that it will not be receiving the anticipated loan of a Byzantine ivory relief of the Death of the Virgin for the exhibition “Saints and Dragons: Icons from Byzantium to Russia.” This no doubt springs from the new U.S. policy on ivory, but even under that stringent approach, the temporary import for a cultural exhibition should have been permitted. The museum may have recourse, but it has apparently made a backup plan for another object to round out the show. The case still serves as a useful framework to consider the new legal reality. This is also a real shame, because it is the second time in the last few years that the museum (which is an absolute gem, founded privately in 2006 by art collector and industrialist Gordon B. Lankton) has been affected by international contretemps (the first relating to the Russian exhibition loan embargo arising out of the Chabad case).

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Topics: relief, Massachusetts, Saints and Dragons: Icons from Byzantium to Russia, Byzantine, Death of the Virgin, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, ivory, Gordon B. Lankton, 22 U.S.C. § 2459, Museum of Russian Icons, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Sp, Clinton, commercial trade, National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficki, Immunity from Seizure Act, Customs, Chabad

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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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