Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery (HEAR) Act of 2016: A Federal Reform to State Statutes of Limitations for Art Restitution Claims

This Note provides a scholarly engagement with the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery (HEAR) Act of 2016—new U.S. legislation that has important implications for the art market—including a detailed examination of the legislative history and its text. The Note describes how international public law commitments, political developments, and recent judicial decisions motivated the passage of the HEAR Act in a mere matter of months with overwhelming bipartisan support, including unanimous passage in the Senate with a voice vote. In order to understand the import of the HEAR Act, the Note offers a comprehensive description of the preexisting legal landscape for restitution of art in the United States, including international public law, past federal legislation, and state common-law writ of replevin. The Note also identifies the important and unique factual circumstances relating to the expropriation of art in the Nazi era that may justify treating claims for the return of art lost in the Nazi era differently from other restitution claims. The HEAR Act will bring dramatic and claimant-friendly changes to the existing legal landscape. But despite the widespread support for the new legislation, the Note highlights some unvoiced concerns. 

56 Colum. J. Transnat'l L. 593