International Jurisdiction and Stolen Art: Cassirer v. Thyssen at the Supreme Court

Date: Friday, December 3, 2021, 12:00 – 1:00 PM ET

Webinar Description:

In 1939, the German-Jewish owner of a Pissarro masterpiece “sold” the painting to a Nazi art dealer for the equivalent of $360 in exchange for a visa to exit the country.  After the war, the painting changed hands several times, and now resides in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, Spain.  In 2005, the descendants of the original owner sued the Kingdom of Spain in federal court in California to recover the painting.  At issue was which law the U.S. courts should apply to the case under the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA).  After numerous decisions and appeals, in 2021 the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to resolve a circuit split regarding proper application of the FSIA.  This panel brings together experts from the US and Europe to unravel the complex issues underlying the dispute over this significant work of art.


Learning Objectives:


Click Here to Watch the Webinar Replay




Jorge L. Contreras, J.D., Presidential Scholar and Professor of Law, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

Jorge L. Contreras teaches in the areas of intellectual property law, property law and genetics and the law.  He has recently been named one of the University of Utah’s Presidential Scholars, he won the 2018-19 Faculty Scholarship Award from the S.J. Quinney College of Law and the University’s Distinguished Research Award in 2020.

Professor Contreras has previously served on the law faculties of American University Washington College of Law and Washington University in St. Louis, and was a partner at the international law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, where he practiced transactional and intellectual property law in Boston, London and Washington DC.

Professor Contreras’s current research focuses, among other things, on the development of technical standards and the use and dissemination of data generated by large-scale scientific research projects. He has edited six books and published more than 100 scholarly articles and book chapters. His published work has appeared in scientific, legal and policy journals including Science, Nature, ​NYU Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, North Carolina Law Review, Florida State Law Review, American University Law Review, Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Antitrust Law Journal, and Utah Law Review. He has been quoted by numerous media outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Economist, Bloomberg, Washington Post, Korea Times and has been featured on NPR, PRI and BBC radio shows and a range of podcasts and online news programs.

Professor Contreras serves Co-Chair of the Interdisciplinary Division of the ABA’s Section of Science & Technology Law and a member of the Advisory Board of the American Antitrust Institute. He has served as Co-Chair of the National Conference of Lawyers and Scientists, a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Committee on Intellectual Property Management in Standard-Setting Processes, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Council of Councils, the Advisory Council of NIH’s National Center for the Advancement of Translational Sciences (NCATS), the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN) Board, the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research, and the Intellectual Property Rights Policy Committee of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). He also serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Utah Genome Project.

He is a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School (JD) and Rice University (BA, BSEE) and clerked for Chief Justice Thomas R. Philips of the Texas Supreme Court.




Emily Behzadi, J.D., Assistant Professor of Law, California Western School of Law

Professor Emily Behzadi’s research and teaching interests are in the fields of art and cultural heritage law. With a background in art history, Professor Behzadi’s research focuses on the interdisciplinary connection between the law and the arts within a national and international framework. Her current work explores issues of restitution and the prohibition against the destruction of cultural heritage as developing norms of customary international law. She seeks to expand her research to cultural heritage issues and disputes arising in Latin America, as they relate to U.S. law and policy. Professor Behzadi has published in the Journal of International Law and International Relations (peer reviewed), George Mason International Law Journal, and the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal.

Prior to joining the faculty at California Western School of Law, Professor Behzadi was an Adjunct Professor at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University College of Law and Barry University, Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law. As an attorney, Professor Behzadi practiced in the areas of art and entertainment law, including intellectual property, contracts, immigration, and civil litigation. Professor Behzadi is the Chair of the ABA Young Lawyers Division Entertainment and Sports Law Committee. Professor Behzadi is also the Vice-Chair of the International Division of the ABA Forum on the Entertainment & Sports Industries. She also serves as an Associate Editor of ABA TYL Journal. Professor Behzadi was recognized as one of the ABA’s “40 Top Young Lawyers” and one of the Orlando Business Journal’s 40 under 40.



Zachary D. Clopton, J.D., Professor of Law, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Zachary D. Clopton joined Northwestern Pritzker School of Law as a Professor of Law in 2019. His research and teaching interests include civil procedure, complex litigation, international litigation, and national security law.

Clopton clerked for the Honorable Diane P. Wood of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He served as an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago and he worked in the national security group at Wilmer Hale in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining Northwestern, Clopton was as an Associate Professor of Law at Cornell Law School. He also was a Public Law Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School.

Clopton’s recent scholarship has appeared or is forthcoming in the Stanford Law ReviewNYU Law ReviewUniversity of Chicago Law ReviewMichigan Law Review, California Law Review, and Cornell Law Review, among others. Clopton’s public writing has appeared in SlatePoliticoThe Hill, and others.

Clopton earned a BA from Yale University, an MPhil in International Relations from Cambridge University, where he was a Gates Foundation Scholar, and a JD from Harvard Law School.



Emily Gould, M.A., Senior Researcher, Institute of Art and Law

Emily Gould is Senior Researcher at the Institute of Art and Law. Emily entered the legal profession after studying history at Cambridge University. After working with the IAL for a year in 1997-8, she trained as a solicitor, initially working in private practice as an intellectual property lawyer with a US firm then moving in-house as counsel for a global pharmaceutical company. After a period working in the charity sector in grants fundraising and management, she returned to the IAL in her current full time position. She writes, teaches and presents on a range of areas pertaining to art and cultural heritage law including copyright, heritage crime, museum ethics and contracts. She teaches on the Art, Business and Law LLM at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University of London and is a frequent contributor on the IAL blog.