Showing posts with label Zeyt'un Gospel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Zeyt'un Gospel. Show all posts

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cassirer Case Stays the Dispute Between The Getty and Armenian Church over the Zeyt'un Gospel Pages


The Los Angeles County Superior Court has agreed to follow a joint stipulation filed by the Getty Museum and the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America by ordering a suspension of the court case between the parties.

In June 2010 the Armenian Church sued the J. Paul Getty Museum for the return of seven missing pages from an illuminated Bible created in 1256.  The court last year ordered the parties to mediate the dispute. As recently as August 8, the parties told the court that they needed additional time to mediate. The parties earlier informed the court that they were discussing a possible solution to the Zeyt'un Gospel pages controversy, saying that a May 10, 2012 mediation session resulted in "substantial progress . . . toward a potential voluntary resolution of this dispute . . . ."

In their stipulation to stay the proceedings filed on October 19, the litigants both conclude that the case should be placed on hold pending the outcome of Claude Cassirer et al. v. Thyssen-Bornemisza CollectionFoundation.

Before he died, Cassirer filed a lawsuit in 2005 in the United States District Court for the Central District of California for the return of a painting titled “Rue Saint-Honoré, Afternoon, Rain Effect.” Cassirer's attorneys argue that the painting, now in Spain, was taken unlawfully from his grandmother.

The Cassirer case focuses on the same statute of limitations relied on by the Armenian Church in its dispute with The Getty, specifically Cal. Code. Civ. Proc. §338(c). Signed into law in 2010, the statute was primarily designed to allow lawsuits for the recovery of Nazi looted art by extending the time period that stolen art claims could be filed--from a six year statue of limitations to a statute of limitations that begins from the time of the actual discovery of the elements of a claim.  The federal district court struck down this statute in May 2012 because the law unconstitutionally intrudes upon the federal government’s exclusive power to conduct foreign affairs, according to the reasoning of the lower court.  The matter is on appeal in the Ninth Circuit.

Given that "the resolution of that appeal may determine the outcome of this case," the Armenian Church and The Getty have agreed in writing to suspend their court proceedings so as "to avoid potentially unnecessary litigation efforts and expenses pending the outcome of that appeal."

This post is researched, written, and published on the blog Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire at culturalheritagelawyer.blogspot.com. Text copyrighted 2012 by Ricardo A. St. Hilaire, Attorney & Counselor at Law, PLLC. Any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission of this post is prohibited. CONTACT: www.culturalheritagelawyer.com

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Getty Museum and Armenian Church Report Progress in Zeyt'un Gospel Case - UPDATED

Getty Musuem
Source: Jelson 25 (public domain)
The Getty Museum and the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America this past Thursday told a Los Angeles County superior court that they were making progress in their dispute over the return of allegedly stolen Zeyt'un Gospel pages. In June 2010 the Armenian Apostolic Church sued the J. Paul Getty Museum for the return of seven missing pages from an illuminated Bible created in 1256.  The court last year ordered the parties to mediate the dispute.  They now report progress.

In a stipulation filed on May 31, 2012, the Getty and the Armenian church both said that a May 10, 2012 mediation session conducted by former federal judge Dickran Tevrizian resulted in "substantial progress . . . toward a potential voluntary resolution of this dispute . . . ."

Both parties asked the court for permission to continue mediation.  The court granted the request and scheduled a status conference for August 3.

UPDATE August 8, 2012:  The parties filed a stipulation on August 3, 2012 to inform the court that they desired more time to mediate.  The parties proposed an October 19, 2012 deadline date.

CONTACT: www.culturalheritagelawyer.com

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mediation Extended in Getty and Armenian Church Zeyt'un Gospel Case

  
Gospel page located at the Matenadaran.
The J. Paul Getty Museum and the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church have agreed to extend the mediation deadline in their dispute over possession of the Zeyt’un Gospel pages. The church sued the Getty in Los Angeles County Superior Court in 2010, charging that the museum obtained stolen property. The church seeks the return of seven pages, parts of an illuminated Bible created in 1256 and currently located in Armenia.

On November 3, 2011 the court ordered the parties to mediate, scheduling a review hearing for March 2012. The Getty and the church later filed a stipulation with the court to extend the mediation deadline to April 27 and to schedule the review hearing for May 4. The stipulation states: "The parties were unable to agree upon a mediator.  Accordingly, on December 16, 2011 the Court ordered the parties to agree upon a different timeline for the completion of mediation."

CONTACT: www.culturalheritagelawyer.com

Friday, November 4, 2011

Los Angeles County Judge Orders Getty Museum to Mediate Armenian Zeyt'un Bible Pages Dispute

The Matenadaran in Yereva, Armenia
where the Zeyt'un Gospel Bible is housed,
minus the seven pages at The Getty in L.A.
Author: TigranMets (Creative Commons)

The Getty Museum and the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church are headed to mediation over the issue of the Zeyt’un Gospel pages. This week Judge Abraham Khan of the Los Angeles County superior court told the parties to return next spring if an agreement was not reached, reports the Los Angeles Times.

In June 2010 the Armenian Apostolic Church filed a civil lawsuit against the J. Paul Getty Museum alleging that the museum acquired stolen property. The church seeks the return of seven manuscript pages, parts of an illuminated Bible that was created in 1256 and later lost during the Armenian bloodshed that occurred during the early 20th century. The actual Bible, minus its missing pages, is located in Armenia at The Matenadaran (officially known as the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts).

The church sued the Getty on four counts:
• Replevin, which is the legal action that a party takes to recover personal property that was taken unlawfully;

• Conversion, which is the legal claim that a party unlawfully used personal property for its own use;

• Treble damages--specifically $105 million--which is a tripling of monetary damages that is permitted by statute, in this case California’s penal law; and

• Quiet title, which is a legal action intended to remove doubt about who owns a certain piece of property.

At issue in the case is the provenance of the biblical pages, which are canon tables or an index. The Getty Museum states on its web site that “[t]he Zeyt'un Gospels, made in the scriptorium at Hromklay for Katholikos Constantine I in 1256, are the earliest signed work of T'oros Roslin, the most accomplished illuminator and scribe in Armenia in the 1200s. These canon tables were separated from the manuscript at some point in the past and eventually acquired by the Getty Museum, while the rest of the manuscript is in a public collection in Armenia.” In a June 2, 2010 press release issued just after the lawsuit was filed, the Getty said that it “legally acquired the Canon Tables in 1994 from a private collection in the United States after a thorough review of their provenance. They have been repeatedly described and reproduced in publications in English, Armenian and French. Indeed, a notable Armenian scholar who also was the primate of the Armenian Church of America acknowledged key details about the Canon Tables' provenance in a 1943 article, including the fact that they were owned by an Armenian family in the United States. The pages have been publicly exhibited throughout the United States, including a well-publicized 1994 exhibition of Armenian art and culture at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.” The Getty Museum added: “Promptly after acquiring the Canon Tables, the Getty prominently featured them in the J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, Volume 23, including a cover illustration. The Canon Tables have been published and exhibited several times since the Getty acquired them. At no time in the ninety or so years that the Canon Tables have been in the United States has anyone questioned their ownership.”

The Armenian church, meanwhile, writes in its initial legal complaint that “the seven missing stolen pages (canon tablets) of the Zeyt’un Gospel Bible ripped from the full manuscript that became stolen property eventually ended up in a private collection of a family in Watertown, Massachusetts, where they were loaned to the Piermont Morgan Library in 1994 for an exhibition entitled “Treasures From Heaven.” The family’s name remained anonymous at that time. The Catholicosate was never informed by the family or by the Piermont Morgan Library of their possession of the seven missing stolen pages which clearly were part of the entire Zeyt’un Gospel Bible manuscript.” The church adds that it only discovered the missing pages when they were noticed “by chance” at the Getty Museum in 2007.

Also at issue in this case is the statute of limitations. However, the court has saved its assessment of this issue for a later date if the parties cannot reach a mediated settlement.

References:

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