9th Circuit clarifies statute of limitations for stolen artwork


This article was published by the Los Angeles & San Francisco Daily Journal on Thursday, October 11, 2018.

Victims of art theft, beware. If you think you know who stole your painting- even if you don’t know it’s whereabouts- don’t wait to file your lawsuit. That’s the lesson learned from a recent 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals decision: G&G Productions LLC v Rustic, 2018 DJDAR 8681 (9th Cir. Aug. 29, 2018).

The 9th Circuit clarified the statute of limitations framework as it applies to artwork theft, holding that if a party suspects that she knows who stole her work of art, even if she does not know where the work of art is located, she is placed on constructive notice and the statute will begin to run. This ruling impacts California Code of Civil Procedure Section 338©(2), which provides that the three-year statute of limitation begins accruing when the aggrieved party discovers the whereabouts of the artwork, by broadening the application of constructive notice to stolen artwork.

G&G Productions involves the purchase, and then disappearance, of a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting entitled “Wine of Babylon” (1984). IN 1983, Vittorio Cecchi Gori, a renowned Italian film director, married defendant Rita Rusic, a then-actress and singer. Gori purchased the painting at a New York art gallery in 1998 for $330,000. He then shipped it to his home in Italy. In 1999, the couple separated. Shortly thereafter, the painting vanished from the couple’s shared home.

Full article available HERE.