A frustratingly sketchy Reuters article indicates that Iran has lost in its attempt to reclaim a carved limestone relief, like this one, from the ancient city of Persepolis. Unfortunately, its an example of shoddy legal reporting. It only gives us the result. It provides none of the legal arguments. An earlier story from The Telegraph gives a good background. The dispute was between Denyse Berend, who purchased the relief in New York in 1974, and Iran. It seems Iran was arguing that the relief was removed sometime after the city was first excavated in 1932 by Ernst Herzfeld. If I had to guess, I would say the High Court ruled in favor of Berend because too much time has passed since she bought the object. More than likely, Iran has let the Statute of Limitations run. Frequently, the issue of whether a claimant has brought a timely action is outcome determinative. When I can get my hands on the opinion, I’ll write more. It could be a significant decision, as it might give us a better idea of the law in England and Wales regarding foreign patrimony laws.
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