Comment on in-kind payments with art

"The Revolution (Mural)" by David Alfaro Siqueiros

“The Revolution (Mural)” by David Alfaro Siqueiros

Julia L.M. Bogdanovich, a senior editor of thePennsylvania Law Review has authored an interesting comment examining how artists could pay taxes with in-kind payment. She uses a comparative approach highlighting both Mexico and the United Kingdom. From the Introduction:

According to popular accounts, in 1957 David Alfaro Siqueiros marched into Hugo B. Margáin’s office with a radical and risky proposal. There, the famous muralist bluntly told the new Director of Income Tax that the recent income tax reforms were unduly burdening Mexico’s artists because they “did not know about accounting or tax laws” and had no money with which to pay their obligations. “The only thing we have are paintings,” Siqueiros insisted. However, rather than seek a complete tax exemption for artists, he told Margáin that artists could instead pay taxes with their artwork. Because their art was valuable, Mexico could amass an enviable collection. Tasked with ensuring the success of the new tax system,8 perhaps Margáin was inclined to be creative, or perhaps he was an art aficionado. Regardless of his motives, Margáin replied, “It doesn’t seem like a bad idea.” Under Margáin’s leadership, the Mexican Ministry of Finance and Public Credit accepted Siqueiros’ proposal and launched a program called Pago en Especie (Payment in Kind) in November 1957, when it collected its first income tax payment in art.

  1. Julia LM Bogdanovich, Devising an Artful Tax: An Appraisal of Payment-in-Kind Income Taxes in Mexico and the United Kingdom, 164 U. Pa. L. Rev. 983 (2015).

Lazopoulos Friedman on Isis’s “get rich quick scheme”

The Temple of Baal Shamin, in happier times
The Temple of Baal Shamin, in happier times

Are Syrian Artifacts protected under the NSPA?Lindsey Lazopoulos Friedman has written an article discussing the possibility of using the McClain Doctrine and the NSPA for objects illegally removed from Syria.

From the abstract:

This article explores how an individual importing a looted artifact may face prosecution and liability in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit. The article begins with a background section that provides additional information about the history of ISIS and ISIS’s current plundering scheme. The background section also provides the legal framework and historical treatment of looted art and stolen artifacts. In particular, this section explains the Eleventh Circuit doctrine on this issue, the McClain doctrine. The McClain doctrine applies the National Stolen Property Act (“NSPA”) to foreign found-in-the-ground claims. Supporters of the doctrine argue that it helps “prevent looting internationally without placing an unacceptable burden on the cultural objects trade.” The analysis section hypothesizes that a looter of a Syrian artifact would not be prosecuted in the Eleventh Circuit under the McClain doctrine. The analysis section also includes possible alternative means for prosecuting a trafficker of Syrian cultural property.

  1. Lindsey Lazopoulos Friedman, ISIS’s Get Rich Quick Scheme: Sell the World’s Cultural Heritage on the Black Market—Purchasers of ISIS-Looted Syrian Artifacts Are Not Criminally Liable Under the NSPA and the McClain Doctrine in the Eleventh Circuit, 70 University of Miami Law Review 1068 (2016).

A strong connection between looting and organized crime in Greece


Police in Greece have announced the arrest of 26 individuals in connection with an antiquities looting network that had been operating for 10 years. The announcement showed the recovery of more than 2,000 objects, including coins, jewelry, and other objects. Two individuals were arrested last Sunday at the Greek-Bulgarian border with an astounding 1,000 coins and small portable objects hidden in the bumper of their car.


Police also confiscated metal detectors, guns, currency, and materials used to counterfeit currency.


The arrests on Sunday were the culmination of a 14-month investigation which may have involved as many as 50 people.

Nicholas Paphitis, Greek police break up gang that excavated, sold antiquities, US News & World Report (Oct. 5, 2016),
Helen Stoilas, Police in Greece arrest 26 in bust of alleged antiquities smuggling ring,

The Cultural Heritage Moot Court Competition Registration

Alexander Calder's 'Flamingo' in front of the Dirkson Federal building
Alexander Calder’s ‘Flamingo’ in front of the Dirkson Federal building

I’ve received notice that the terrific Cultural Heritage Moot Court competition is gearing up again. Here are the details from DePaul and the LCCHP:

DePaul University College of Law and the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation are pleased to announce that registration for the Eighth Annual Cultural Heritage Law Moot Court Competition is open! The Oral Arguments for the 2017 Competition will be held on February 24th and 25th, 2017 at the Everett M. Dirksen United States Courthouse, home of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, Illinois.

The 2017 Competition will focus on the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA), which prohibits the taking of bald and golden eagles and eagle parts, including feathers. The competition problem will address a challenge to BGEPA brought by a Native American tribe member, including a challenge under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The competition is open to 26 two- and three-member student teams from ABA-accredited or provisionally accredited law schools. Schools may register up to two teams at a rate of $450.00 per team. The registration deadline is November 17, 2016. The problem will be released on November 18, 2016. Visit the competition website at for additional details or to register a team. Contact the Competition Board at with any questions.

Attorneys interested in serving as judges or brief graders should contact CLE credit is available for attorneys who participate as judges.

Eakin on the destruction at Palmyra

Louis Vignes, Temple of Baalshamin, Palmyra, Syria (1864)
Louis Vignes, Temple of Baalshamin, Palmyra, Syria (1864)

In an essay in the most recent issue of the New York Review of Books, Hugh Eakin criticizes the actions of UNESCO, the United States, and Russia in the wake of the retaking of Palmyra from the Islamic State.

For all the pageantry, the retaking of Palmyra has served as a powerful reminder of how detached from reality the international campaign to save Syria’s endangered cultural heritage has been. Chastened by the damage wrought in recent wars in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Mali, Western leaders, cultural officials, UNESCO, and even the UN Security Council have for several years now devoted unprecedented attention to the threats to sites in Syria by ISIS and other extremist groups. Millions of dollars have been spent to document, with the best satellite technology available and other resources, the current condition of archaeological monuments in the areas of conflict; legal scholars have called for war crimes prosecutions against those who intentionally damage historic sites and monuments; while top officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry and French President François Hollande, have long warned of the cost of Western inaction. Above all, a continuous series of initiatives have been aimed at cracking down on the international trade in looted Syrian antiquities, often described as a major revenue source for ISIS.

He argues instead that the best progress will likely come as a result of action done by local populations: Continue reading “Eakin on the destruction at Palmyra”

“loot” at Texas A&M Law on September 9


Next Friday Texas A&M Law school is sponsoring a symposium on looted art, cultural property and repatriation. They’ve announced an impressive lineup of speakers:

  • Don Burris, Senior Founding Partner, Burris & Schoenberg, LLP
  • Megan Carpenter, Co-Director, Texas A&M Center for Law and Intellectual Law (CLIP)
  • Monica Dugot, Senior Vice President, International Director of Restitution, Christie’s
  • Simon Frankel, Chair of Intellectual Property, Partner, Covington & Burling LLP
  • Deborah Gerhardt, Associate Professor of Law, University of North Carolina
  • Jennifer Kreder, Professor of Law, Northern Kentucky University
  • Marilyn Phelan, Paul Whitfield Horn Professor of Law Emeritus and former Professor of Museum Science, Texas Tech University
  • Lucille Roussin, Board of Directors, The Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation, and Director, Holocaust Restitution Claims Externship at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

For the details, visit the event page here.