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RUSSIAN ART EMBARGO HITS LACMA

June 6, 2011

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The latest museum to be hit by the bizarre four-month-long Russian embargo on art loans to the U.S. is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which is scrambling to fill in the gaps of its “Gifts of the Sultans: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts” show, which opened to the public on Sunday for a summer-long run, June 5-Sept. 5, 2011. LACMA had been counting on 30 works from Russian institutions, including the highlight of the show, an 18th-century Turkish tent thought to be a gift to Catherine the Great, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Russia launched the embargo in February after an unrelated court case involving the so-called Schneerson Library, a trove of books and religious manuscripts that has been held in Russia but is now claimed by the Brooklyn-based Orthodox Jewish sect Aguydas Chasidei Chabad.

In fear that U.S. courts would seize Russian art assets as some kind of legal "collateral" in the dispute, the Russian culture ministry suspended all loans to the U.S. Protests from U.S. diplomats and museum directors that art loans are protected from court seizure under U.S. law have been unavailing so far.

The dispute has affected exhibitions of Paul Cézanne at the Metropolitan Museum, Paul Gauguin at the National Gallery of Art, and shows at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences, the Getty Museum, and the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, Mass.

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