On the case’s third trip to the Ninth Circuit, the museum finally prevails on the act of state doctrine which requires that the acts of foreign sovereigns taken within their own jurisdictions shall be deemed valid (except for purely commercial actions or acts of expropriation after 1959). Here, Von Saher tried to reclaim paintings that her father-in-law had been forced to sell the Nazis. After the Second World War, the Allies returned the paintings to the Dutch government, which in turn set up a program for restitution of similar seized art to its prewar Dutch owners. Von Saher’s in-laws chose not to participate in that program and the Dutch government conveyed the paintings to another Dutch citizen who sold them to the museum. Both the sale to the other Dutch citizen and the Dutch government’s later denial of Von Saher’s claims were official acts of the Dutch government taken in Holland and so had to be deemed valid, nixing Von Saher’s claim to the paintings.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (McKeown, J.; Wardlaw, J., concurring); July 30, 2018; 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 20989