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Heirs Can Sue Hungary Museums Over Nazi-Looted Art Collection

(JTA) — A U.S. federal court has ruled that the heirs to one of the largest art collections in Hungary prior to World War II may sue for the recovery of some of the works from Hungarian institutions in the U.S. court system.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday ruled that the heirs of Baron Mór Lipót Herzog can sue Hungarian state-owned museums and a university to recover the more than 40 pieces of art with an estimated value exceeding $100 million.

The collection includes works artists including El Greco, Francisco de Zurbarán, Lucas Cranach the Elder, van Dyck, Velázquez and Monet.

The court found that the Hungarian institutions’ claims that they are immune from jurisdiction under the United States Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, in which foreign countries are exempt from being sued by U.S. citizens,   and agreed with the Herzog heirs that the seizure of the collection during the Holocaust constituted genocidal takings in violation of international law. 

The court dismissed Hungary as a defendant under the act, however.

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Heirs Can Sue Hungary Museums Over Nazi-Looted Art Collection

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