Andre Marc Delocque-Fourcaud's grandfather was Sergei Shchukin, who along with Ivan Morozov amassed collections of some of the best pre-World War I artworks in the world-Marc David Miller
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Cultural and Business Travel
Wall Street Journal
July 16, 2003
Heir of Russian Collector Sues Los Angeles Museum
By BROOKS BARNES
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
In a legal case that experts say could chill loans of foreign art to U.S. museums, the heir of a Russian art collector is suing a California museum for part of the revenue it will earn exhibiting works confiscated during the Russian Revolution.
The heir, Andre Marc Delocque-Fourcaud, filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles against the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, saying a blockbuster exhibition opening July 27, "Old Masters, Impressionists and Moderns: French Masterworks from the State Pushkin Museum, Moscow," includes "stolen property." The suit says 26 paintings appropriated by the Bolsheviks in 1918 from Mr. Delocque-Fourcaud's grandfather are featured in the show. The Paris resident is seeking an undisclosed portion of the revenue from the exhibit, including gift-shop sales.
The suit is notable on two counts, art dealers and attorneys said. It seeks revenue from the exhibition, rather than restitution of the art, and, unlike a spate of similar, and largely successful, suits in recent years, it doesn't hinge upon Nazi looting during World War II. Ronald Spencer, an art-industry attorney at the New York firm of Carter, Ledyard & Milburn, said the case is likely to make top foreign institutions shy away even more from lending out high-profile artworks with disputed ownership. There is reason to be concerned, he said, that this suit could "put the kibosh on foreign loans."
According to the suit, the museum "has been, and will continue to be, unjustly enriched to the detriment" of Mr. Delocque-Fourcaud and is engaging in a "fraudulent business act or practice" by receiving shipments of "stolen property." Thaddeus Stauber, general counsel for the museum, said, "We've been assured that all of the objects are covered" under an immunity agreement the U.S. State Department granted in 2002 for all of the art in the exhibition; such governmental immunity is routine in the exchange of major artworks between nations. "We have no plans to change anything with the show," he said.
The suit comes after the paintings have crisscrossed the U.S. for nearly a year as part of an exhibition organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. One of the lawyers representing Mr. Delocque-Fourcaud, E. Randol Schoenberg of Burris & Schoenberg LLP in Los Angeles, said the suit was filed on the third leg of the tour because California jurisdictions have been "a little bit friendlier" to plaintiffs regarding art-restitution matters.