Republic of Turkey v. Christie’s, Inc.—Federal Court Dismisses Turkey’s Claim for Ownership of Allegedly Looted Antiquity: Court Finds That Turkey Failed to Prove the Object’s Provenance, and That Claim Was Barred by Laches Due to Delay in Turkey’s Assertion of Its Ownership RightSullivan & Cromwell LLP - September 14, 2021
A federal court has dismissed a claim by the Republic of Turkey against Christie’s, Inc. and a private collector for the recovery of an ancient artifact known as the “Guennol Stargazer,” which Turkey alleged was looted. Turkey’s claim was based on an early 20th century decree providing for government ownership of antiquities then-present in the country. The court, applying New York law, found there was insufficient evidence that the artifact was present in Turkey when the decree was passed, and that Turkey’s claim was barred by the doctrine of laches because Turkey had known of the idol’s whereabouts for decades without taking any action. The decision will provide significant support for defendants in civil claims in New York for the recovery of antiquities where the claimant has delayed in asserting its claim or is unable to provide sufficient evidence of ownership of the subject property at a relevant time.
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