US Appellate Court Rules Greek Ministry Can Protect Cultural Patrimony

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Saturday, June 27, 2020
Miranda Bannister

On June 9, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit concluded that there was no jurisdiction for the suit of the Saretta Barnet Trust Foundation and Sotheby’s Inc. against the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports. The viability of the suit, which arose from Greece’s patrimony claims to a miniature horse figurine placed on auction by Sotheby’s, depended on the court’s interpretation of the commercial activities exemption to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. While the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York initially determined Greece’s claim was a commercial activity that exempted it from sovereign immunity, the Court of Appeals has remanded that decision.