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Art Wars

Legal battle between Russia and Chabad heats up

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"The Reception of the French Ambassador Jacques-Vincent Languet, Comte de Gergy, at the Doge's Palace," by Canaletto.(Vladimir Terebenin, Leonard Kheifets, Yuri Molodkovets/State Hermitage Museum)

Russia’s fears that Chabad might intercept art loaned to the U.S. are legitimate, a U.S. federal court has ruled. Earlier this year, Russian officials ordered museums to stop loaning art to American museums, leaving major art institutions, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, without some very major works of art they planned to showcase.

This is the latest round of a legal battle that has been waged since the 1980s, when elements of the Schneerson library—long thought to have been lost or destroyed by the Nazis—were found in Russia’s State Library. The contentious dispute, which saw Chabad employing various legal means trying to get the collection back to the U.S., has caused serious strain in the art world as more institutions become inadvertently involved in what is essentially a property dispute.

The collection, which had grown to include 12,000 books and 50,000 documents, was curated by the Russian-based Chabad-Lubavitch movement for centuries, and believed to have been confiscated during World War II.

Court Calls Russia’s Fear of Chabad Art Seizure Legitimate [New York Observer]
Dispute Derails Art Loans From Russia [NYT]
How Chabad Triggered a Superpower Art War [Jewish Chronicle]

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Art Wars

Legal battle between Russia and Chabad heats up

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