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HEAR Act Passes Congress; Expected to be Signed by President Obama; ASA Supported Legislation

Dec 19, 2016

On December 10, the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act of 2016, or HEAR Act, passed through the Senate on a voice vote, moving it to President Obama’s desk for his signature. The HEAR Act passed the House, also on voice vote, on December 7. Both voice votes indicate the strong bi-partisan support this measure had, and its passage during the lame duck session shows how important this issue was to the outgoing Congress.

The bill addresses existing issues with state statutes of limitation that often preclude an otherwise valid claim to recover works of art that were illegally taken during the Nazi regime. Claimants will now have six years to bring an action once they discover the identity and location of the artwork, as well as facts to support a claim of possessory interest in the item. The bill also allows claims that were dismissed due to a statute of limitations to be brought back before a court during the bill’s effective period, which runs until 2026. This moves to clear up ongoing confusion among state courts who handle these cases, where questions regarding the right of a claimant to bring an action often take years to resolve, in some instances foreclosing an otherwise meritorious claim solely for having come after the statute of limitations had run.

ASA believes this bill provides claimants much needed consistency across states when seeking to bring a claim of possession of expropriated art, and allows those who had otherwise valid claims dismissed due to the passage of time alone another chance to seek redress. ASA previously voiced its support for the bill, and is pleased to see such broad bipartisan support behind its passage into law.

ASA’s members are readily available to provide their expertise to those who believe they may have a claim. To find an accredited ASA appraiser who specializes in the type of artwork involved, call 1-800-ASA-VALU (1-800-272-8258) or use our Find an Appraiser feature at