Text: S.2763 — 114th Congress (2015-2016)All Information (Except Text)

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Reported to Senate (09/29/2016)

 
[Congressional Bills 114th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[S. 2763 Reported in Senate (RS)]

<DOC>





                                                       Calendar No. 654
114th CONGRESS
  2d Session
                                S. 2763

 To provide the victims of Holocaust-era persecution and their heirs a 
fair opportunity to recover works of art confiscated or misappropriated 
                             by the Nazis.


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                             April 7, 2016

  Mr. Cornyn (for himself, Mr. Cruz, Mr. Schumer, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. 
Rounds, Mr. Hatch, Mr. Franken, Mrs. Feinstein, Mr. Durbin, Mr. Tillis, 
 Ms. Klobuchar, Mr. Booker, Mr. Grassley, Mr. Leahy, and Mr. Portman) 
introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the 
                       Committee on the Judiciary

                           September 29, 2016

              Reported by Mr. Grassley, with an amendment
 [Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert the part printed 
                               in italic]

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
 To provide the victims of Holocaust-era persecution and their heirs a 
fair opportunity to recover works of art confiscated or misappropriated 
                             by the Nazis.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

<DELETED>SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.</DELETED>

<DELETED>    This Act may be cited as the ``Holocaust Expropriated Art 
Recovery Act of 2016''.</DELETED>

<DELETED>SEC. 2. FINDINGS.</DELETED>

<DELETED>    Congress finds the following:</DELETED>
        <DELETED>    (1) It is estimated that the Nazis confiscated or 
        otherwise misappropriated as many as 650,000 works of art 
        throughout Europe as part of their genocidal campaign against 
        the Jewish people and other persecuted groups. This has been 
        described as the ``greatest displacement of art in human 
        history''.</DELETED>
        <DELETED>    (2) Following World War II, the United States and 
        its allies attempted to return the stolen artworks to their 
        countries of origin. Despite these efforts, many works of art 
        were never reunited with their owners. Some of the art has 
        since been discovered in the United States.</DELETED>
        <DELETED>    (3) In 1998, the United States convened a 
        conference with 44 nations in Washington, DC, known as the 
        Washington Conference, which produced Principles on Nazi-
        Confiscated Art. One of these principles is that ``steps should 
        be taken expeditiously to achieve a just and fair solution'' to 
        claims involving such art that has not been restituted if the 
        owners or their heirs can be identified.</DELETED>
        <DELETED>    (4) The same year, Congress enacted the Holocaust 
        Victims Redress Act (Public Law 105-158, 112 Stat. 15), which 
        expressed the sense of Congress that ``all governments should 
        undertake good faith efforts to facilitate the return of 
        private and public property, such as works of art, to the 
        rightful owners in cases where assets were confiscated from the 
        claimant during the period of Nazi rule and there is reasonable 
        proof that the claimant is the rightful owner.''.</DELETED>
        <DELETED>    (5) In 2009, the United States participated in a 
        Holocaust Era Assets Conference in Prague, Czech Republic, with 
        45 other nations. At the conclusion of this conference, the 
        participating nations issued the Terezin Declaration, which 
        reaffirmed the 1998 Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-
        Confiscated Art and urged all participants ``to ensure that 
        their legal systems or alternative processes, while taking into 
        account the different legal traditions, facilitate just and 
        fair solutions with regard to Nazi-confiscated and looted art, 
        and to make certain that claims to recover such art are 
        resolved expeditiously and based on the facts and merits of the 
        claims and all the relevant documents submitted by all 
        parties.''. The Declaration also urged participants to 
        ``consider all relevant issues when applying various legal 
        provisions that may impede the restitution of art and cultural 
        property, in order to achieve just and fair solutions, as well 
        as alternative dispute resolution, where appropriate under 
        law.''.</DELETED>
        <DELETED>    (6) Numerous victims of Nazi persecution and their 
        heirs have taken legal action to recover Nazi-confiscated art. 
        These lawsuits face significant procedural obstacles partly due 
        to State statutes of limitations, which typically bar claims 
        within some limited number of years from either the date of the 
        loss or the date that the claim should have been discovered. In 
        some cases, this means that the claims expired before World War 
        II even ended. (See, e.g., The Detroit Institute of Arts v. 
        Ullin, No. 06-10333, 2007 WL 1016996 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 31, 
        2007).) The unique and horrific circumstances of World War II 
        and the Holocaust make statutes of limitations and other time-
        based procedural defenses especially burdensome to the victims 
        and their heirs. Those seeking recovery of Nazi-confiscated art 
        must painstakingly piece together their cases from a 
        fragmentary historical record ravaged by persecution, war, and 
        genocide. This costly process often cannot be done within the 
        time constraints imposed by existing law.</DELETED>
        <DELETED>    (7) Federal legislation is needed because the only 
        court that has considered the question held that the 
        Constitution prohibits States from making exceptions to their 
        statutes of limitations to accommodate claims involving the 
        recovery of Nazi-confiscated art. In Von Saher v. Norton Simon 
        Museum of Art, 592 F.3d 954 (9th Cir. 2009), the United States 
        Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit invalidated a California 
        law that extended the State statute of limitations for claims 
        seeking recovery of Holocaust-era artwork. The Court held that 
        the law was an unconstitutional infringement of the Federal 
        Government's exclusive authority over foreign affairs, which 
        includes the resolution of war-related disputes. In light of 
        this precedent, the enactment of a Federal law is the best way 
        to ensure that claims to Nazi-confiscated art are adjudicated 
        on their merits.</DELETED>

<DELETED>SEC. 3. PURPOSES.</DELETED>

<DELETED>    The purposes of this Act are the following:</DELETED>
        <DELETED>    (1) To ensure that laws governing claims to Nazi-
        confiscated art further United States policy as set forth in 
        the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, 
        the Holocaust Victims Redress Act, and the Terezin 
        Declaration.</DELETED>
        <DELETED>    (2) To ensure that claims to artwork stolen or 
        misappropriated by the Nazis are not barred by statutes of 
        limitations and other similar legal doctrines but are resolved 
        in a just and fair manner on the merits.</DELETED>

<DELETED>SEC. 4. DEFINITIONS.</DELETED>

<DELETED>    In this Act--</DELETED>
        <DELETED>    (1) the term ``actual discovery'' does not include 
        any constructive knowledge imputed by law;</DELETED>
        <DELETED>    (2) the term ``artwork or other cultural 
        property'' includes any painting, sculpture, drawing, work of 
        graphic art, print, multiples, book, manuscript, archive, or 
        sacred or ceremonial object;</DELETED>
        <DELETED>    (3) the term ``persecution during the Nazi era'' 
        means any persecution by the Nazis or their allies during the 
        period from January 1, 1933, to December 31, 1945, that was 
        based on race, ethnicity, or religion; and</DELETED>
        <DELETED>    (4) the term ``unlawfully lost'' includes any 
        theft, seizure, forced sale, sale under duress, or any other 
        loss of an artwork or cultural property that would not have 
        occurred absent persecution during the Nazi era.</DELETED>

<DELETED>SEC. 5. STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS.</DELETED>

<DELETED>    (a) In General.--Notwithstanding any other provision of 
Federal law, any provision of State law, or any defense at law or 
equity relating to the passage of time (including the doctrine of 
laches), a civil claim or cause of action against a defendant to 
recover any artwork or other cultural property unlawfully lost because 
of persecution during the Nazi era or for damages for the taking or 
detaining of any artwork or other cultural property unlawfully lost 
because of persecution during the Nazi era may be commenced not later 
than 6 years after the actual discovery by the claimant or the agent of 
the claimant of--</DELETED>
        <DELETED>    (1) the identity and location of the artwork or 
        cultural property; and</DELETED>
        <DELETED>    (2) information or facts sufficient to indicate 
        that the claimant has a claim for a possessory interest in the 
        artwork or cultural property that was unlawfully 
        lost.</DELETED>
<DELETED>    (b) Possible Misidentification.--For purposes of 
subsection (a)(1), in a case in which there is a possibility of 
misidentification of the artwork or cultural property, the 
identification of the artwork or cultural property shall occur on the 
date on which there are facts sufficient to determine that the artwork 
or cultural property is likely to be the artwork or cultural property 
that was unlawfully lost.</DELETED>
<DELETED>    (c) Applicability.--</DELETED>
        <DELETED>    (1) In general.--Subsection (a) shall apply to any 
        civil claim or cause of action (including a civil claim or 
        cause of action described in paragraph (2)) that is--</DELETED>
                <DELETED>    (A) pending on the date of enactment of 
                this Act; or</DELETED>
                <DELETED>    (B) filed during the period beginning on 
                the date of enactment of this Act and ending on 
                December 31, 2026.</DELETED>
        <DELETED>    (2) Inclusion of previously dismissed claims.--A 
        civil claim or cause of action described in this paragraph is a 
        civil claim or cause of action--</DELETED>
                <DELETED>    (A) that was dismissed before the date of 
                enactment of this Act based on the expiration of a 
                Federal or State statute of limitations or any other 
                defense at law or equity relating to the passage of 
                time (including the doctrine of laches); and</DELETED>
                <DELETED>    (B) in which final judgment has not been 
                entered.</DELETED>

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery 
Act of 2016''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds the following:
            (1) It is estimated that the Nazis confiscated or otherwise 
        misappropriated hundreds of thousands of works of art and other 
        property throughout Europe as part of their genocidal campaign 
        against the Jewish people and other persecuted groups. This has 
        been described as the ``greatest displacement of art in human 
        history''.
            (2) Following World War II, the United States and its 
        allies attempted to return the stolen artworks to their 
        countries of origin. Despite these efforts, many works of art 
        were never reunited with their owners. Some of the art has 
        since been discovered in the United States.
            (3) In 1998, the United States convened a conference with 
        43 other nations in Washington, DC, known as the Washington 
        Conference, which produced Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art. 
        One of these principles is that ``steps should be taken 
        expeditiously to achieve a just and fair solution'' to claims 
        involving such art that has not been restituted if the owners 
        or their heirs can be identified.
            (4) The same year, Congress enacted the Holocaust Victims 
        Redress Act (Public Law 105-158; 112 Stat. 15), which expressed 
        the sense of Congress that ``all governments should undertake 
        good faith efforts to facilitate the return of private and 
        public property, such as works of art, to the rightful owners 
        in cases where assets were confiscated from the claimant during 
        the period of Nazi rule and there is reasonable proof that the 
        claimant is the rightful owner.''
            (5) In 2009, the United States participated in a Holocaust 
        Era Assets Conference in Prague, Czech Republic, with 45 other 
        nations. At the conclusion of this conference, the 
        participating nations issued the Terezin Declaration, which 
        reaffirmed the 1998 Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-
        Confiscated Art and urged all participants ``to ensure that 
        their legal systems or alternative processes, while taking into 
        account the different legal traditions, facilitate just and 
        fair solutions with regard to Nazi-confiscated and looted art, 
        and to make certain that claims to recover such art are 
        resolved expeditiously and based on the facts and merits of the 
        claims and all the relevant documents submitted by all 
        parties.'' The Declaration also urged participants to 
        ``consider all relevant issues when applying various legal 
        provisions that may impede the restitution of art and cultural 
        property, in order to achieve just and fair solutions, as well 
        as alternative dispute resolution, where appropriate under 
        law.''
            (6) Victims of Nazi persecution and their heirs have taken 
        legal action in the United States to recover Nazi-confiscated 
        art. These lawsuits face significant procedural obstacles 
        partly due to State statutes of limitations, which typically 
        bar claims within some limited number of years from either the 
        date of the loss or the date that the claim should have been 
        discovered. In some cases, this means that the claims expired 
        before World War II even ended. (See, e.g., Detroit Institute 
        of Arts v. Ullin, No. 06-10333, 2007 WL 1016996 (E.D. Mich. 
        Mar. 31, 2007)). The unique and horrific circumstances of World 
        War II and the Holocaust make statutes of limitations 
        especially burdensome to the victims and their heirs. Those 
        seeking recovery of Nazi-confiscated art must painstakingly 
        piece together their cases from a fragmentary historical record 
        ravaged by persecution, war, and genocide. This costly process 
        often cannot be done within the time constraints imposed by 
        existing law.
            (7) Federal legislation is needed because the only court 
        that has considered the question held that the Constitution 
        prohibits States from making exceptions to their statutes of 
        limitations to accommodate claims involving the recovery of 
        Nazi-confiscated art. In Von Saher v. Norton Simon Museum of 
        Art, 592 F.3d 954 (9th Cir. 2009), the United States Court of 
        Appeals for the Ninth Circuit invalidated a California law that 
        extended the State statute of limitations for claims seeking 
        recovery of Holocaust-era artwork. The Court held that the law 
        was an unconstitutional infringement of the Federal 
        Government's exclusive authority over foreign affairs, which 
        includes the resolution of war-related disputes. In light of 
        this precedent, the enactment of a Federal law is necessary to 
        ensure that claims to Nazi-confiscated art are adjudicated in 
        accordance with United States policy as expressed in the 
        Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, the 
        Holocaust Victims Redress Act, and the Terezin Declaration.
            (8) While litigation may be used to resolve claims to 
        recover Nazi-confiscated art, it is the sense of Congress that 
        the private resolution of claims by parties involved, on the 
        merits and through the use of alternative dispute resolution 
        such as mediation panels established for this purpose with the 
        aid of experts in provenance research and history, will yield 
        just and fair resolutions in a more efficient and predictable 
        manner.

SEC. 3. PURPOSES.

    The purposes of this Act are the following:
            (1) To ensure that laws governing claims to Nazi-
        confiscated art and other property further United States policy 
        as set forth in the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-
        Confiscated Art, the Holocaust Victims Redress Act, and the 
        Terezin Declaration.
            (2) To ensure that claims to artwork and other property 
        stolen or misappropriated by the Nazis are not unfairly barred 
        by statutes of limitations but are resolved in a just and fair 
        manner.

SEC. 4. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Actual discovery.--The term ``actual discovery'' means 
        knowledge.
            (2) Artwork or other property.--The term ``artwork or other 
        property'' means--
                    (A) pictures, paintings, and drawings;
                    (B) statuary art and sculpture;
                    (C) engravings, prints, lithographs, and works of 
                graphic art;
                    (D) applied art and original artistic assemblages 
                and montages;
                    (E) books, archives, musical objects and 
                manuscripts (including musical manuscripts and sheets), 
                and sound, photographic, and cinematographic archives 
                and mediums; and
                    (F) sacred and ceremonial objects and Judaica.
            (3) Covered period.--The term ``covered period'' means the 
        period beginning on January 1, 1933 and ending on December 31, 
        1945.
            (4) Knowledge.--The term ``knowledge'' means having actual 
        knowledge of a fact or circumstance or sufficient information 
        with regard to a relevant fact or circumstance to amount to 
        actual knowledge thereof.
            (5) Nazi persecution.--The term ``Nazi persecution'' means 
        any persecution of a specific group of individuals based on 
        Nazi ideology by the Government of Germany, its allies or 
        agents, members of the Nazi Party, or their agents or 
        associates, during the covered period.

SEC. 5. STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS.

    (a) In General.--Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal or 
State law or any defense at law relating to the passage of time, and 
except as otherwise provided in this section, a civil claim or cause of 
action against a defendant to recover any artwork or other property 
that was lost during the covered period because of Nazi persecution may 
be commenced not later than 6 years after the actual discovery by the 
claimant or the agent of the claimant of--
            (1) the identity and location of the artwork or other 
        property; and
            (2) a possessory interest of the claimant in the artwork or 
        other property.
    (b) Possible Misidentification.--For purposes of subsection (a)(1), 
in a case in which the artwork or other property is one of a group of 
substantially similar multiple artworks or other property, actual 
discovery of the identity and location of the artwork or other property 
shall be deemed to occur on the date on which there are facts 
sufficient to form a substantial basis to believe that the artwork or 
other property is the artwork or other property that was lost.
    (c) Preexisting Claims.--Except as provided in subsection (e), a 
civil claim or cause of action described in subsection (a) shall be 
deemed to have been actually discovered on the date of enactment of 
this Act if--
            (1) before the date of enactment of this Act--
                    (A) a claimant had knowledge of the elements set 
                forth in subsection (a); and
                    (B) the civil claim or cause of action was barred 
                by a Federal or State statute of limitations; or
            (2)(A) before the date of enactment of this Act, a claimant 
        had knowledge of the elements set forth in subsection (a); and
            (B) on the date of enactment of this Act, the civil claim 
        or cause of action was not barred by a Federal or State statute 
        of limitations.
    (d) Applicability.--Subsection (a) shall apply to any civil claim 
or cause of action that is--
            (1) pending in any court on the date of enactment of this 
        Act, including any civil claim or cause of action that is 
        pending on appeal or for which the time to file an appeal has 
        not expired; or
            (2) filed during the period beginning on the date of 
        enactment of this Act and ending on December 31, 2026.
    (e) Exception.--Subsection (a) shall not apply to any civil claim 
or cause of action barred on the day before the date of enactment of 
this Act by a Federal or State statute of limitations if--
            (1) the claimant or a predecessor-in-interest of the 
        claimant had knowledge of the elements set forth in subsection 
        (a) on or after January 1, 1999; and
            (2) not less than 6 years have passed from the date such 
        claimant or predecessor-in-interest acquired such knowledge and 
        during which time the civil claim or cause of action was not 
        barred by a Federal or State statute of limitations.
    (f) Rule of Construction.--Nothing in this Act shall be construed 
to create a civil claim or cause of action under Federal or State law.
    (g) Sunset.--This Act shall cease to have effect on January 1, 
2027, except that this Act shall continue to apply to any civil claim 
or cause of action described in subsection (a) that is pending on 
January 1, 2027. Any civil claim or cause of action commenced on or 
after that date to recover artwork or other property described in this 
Act shall be subject to any applicable Federal or State statute of 
limitations or any other Federal or State defense at law relating to 
the passage of time.
                                                       Calendar No. 654

114th CONGRESS

  2d Session

                                S. 2763

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL

 To provide the victims of Holocaust-era persecution and their heirs a 
fair opportunity to recover works of art confiscated or misappropriated 
                             by the Nazis.

_______________________________________________________________________

                           September 29, 2016

                       Reported with an amendment