US Supreme Court unanimous decision recognises Germany’s claim to immunity in Welfenschatz litigation


Professor Christian J. Tams was one of the lead authors of an amicus curiae brief addressing questions of State immunity implicated in Supreme Court proceedings concerning the restitution of major artworks.

The artworks – comprising the ‘Welfenschatz’ or Guelph treasure, said to be worth over $250 million – are on display in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin. Their restitution is sought by descendants of Jewish art dealers who owned the treasure, before it was acquired by the (then) State of Prussia in 1935.

In its unanimous decision of 3 February 2021, the Supreme Court clarified that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act bars claims against against foreign governments accused of expropriating their own citizens’ property.

Useful link(s)

Read the full opinion here.

Please see here for the brief.