Supreme Court Vacates Ninth Circuit in Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

Partner Amelia Sargent published an article in the Spring 2022 edition of the American Bar Association Section of International Law: Art & Cultural Heritage Law Newsletter titled “Supreme Court Vacates Ninth Circuit in Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Unsettling Fate of Nazi-Looted Painting.”

The article discusses the recent Supreme Court decision in the Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation case, which vacates the Ninth Circuit and remands for further proceedings. The Supreme Court ruled that the courts should have applied California’s choice-of-law rule, instead of a federal choice-of-law rule, to determine whether Spanish substantive law applied.

The litigation involves rightful ownership of a painting by Pissarro that was taken by the Nazis during World War II and acquired by the Kingdom of Spain’s Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection (TBC) in 1993. The case has been litigated for seventeen years and has included four trips to the Ninth Circuit.

Amelia, who launched Willenken’s art, cultural, and educational institutions practice, has played a role in this case since its second appeal. She submitted amicus briefs on behalf of the Solicitor General of the Kingdom of Spain at both the trial and appellate levels, regarding the application of Spanish principles of adverse possession. At her prior firm, she submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the California Association of Museums in support of TBC.

Read the full article beginning on page 3 here.