|BILL AS INTRODUCED||2007-2008|
Introduced by Representatives Bostic of St. Johnsbury, Sweaney of Windsor, Acinapura of Brandon, Heath of Westford, Hunt of Essex, Hutchinson of Randolph, Keenan of St. Albans City and Miller of Shaftsbury
Subject: Private property; museum property; statute of limitations; termination of loan agreement; quiet title
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to clarify issues relating to property that has been loaned to museums.
AN ACT RELATING TO PROPERTY LOANED TO MUSEUMS
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 27 V.S.A. chapter 12 is added to read:
Chapter 12. Museum Property
§ 1151. DEFINITIONS
As used in this chapter:
(1) “Loan” means a deposit of property not accompanied by a transfer of title to the property.
(2) “Museum” means an institution operated by a nonprofit corporation or a public agency primarily for educational, scientific, historic preservation, or aesthetic purposes, and the institution owns, cares for, exhibits, studies, archives, or catalogues property. “Museum” also includes historical societies, parks, monuments, and libraries.
(3) “Property” means a tangible object, animate or inanimate, that has intrinsic historic artistic, scientific, or cultural value, and the object is under the care of a museum.
§ 1152. PROPERTY HELD WITHOUT A LOAN AGREEMENT
Any property held by a museum that is not subject to a loan agreement and has been held for five or more years and has remained unclaimed shall be deemed to be abandoned. The property shall become the property of the museum, provided the museum has given notice pursuant to section 1154 of this title and no assertion of title has been filed for the property within 90 days from the date of the second published notice.
§ 1153. PROPERTY HELD PURSUANT TO A LOAN AGREEMENT
(a) Property in the possession of a museum subject to a loan agreement shall be deemed to be donated to the museum, provided:
(1) No claim is made or action filed to recover the property after termination of the loan.
(2) The museum provided notice as required pursuant to section 1154 of this title.
(3) No assertion of title has been filed within 90 days following the date of the second published notice.
(b) A museum may terminate a loan of property if the loan was for an indefinite term and the property has been held by the museum for five years or more by providing notice pursuant to section 1154 of this title. For the purposes of this chapter, property on permanent loan shall be considered property loaned for an indefinite term.
(c) A museum may terminate a loan of property loaned for a specified term by providing notice pursuant to section 1154 of this title any time after the expiration of the specified term or earlier if permitted by the loan agreement.
(d) The owner of property on loan to a museum shall notify the museum promptly of any transfer of ownership or change in address of the owner.
(e) Prior to acceptance of a loan of property, a museum shall provide written notice to the owner of the property of the provisions of this title.
§ 1154. NOTICE REQUIREMENTS BY MUSEUMS FOR
(a) A museum required to provide notice pursuant to sections 1152 and 1153 of this title shall mail written notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known owner at the most recent address. If the museum has no record of the owner’s address, or the museum has not received written proof of receipt of the mailed notice within 30 days after mailing, the museum shall publish at least one notice each week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in both the county in which the museum is located and the county of the last known address of the owner, if known. For the purposes of this section, if property is loaned to a branch of a museum, the museum shall be considered to be located in the county in which the branch is located, otherwise a museum shall be located in the county in which it has its principal place of business.
(b) The published notice shall contain all the following:
(1) A clear description of the unclaimed property.
(2) The last known name and address of the owner.
(3) A request that any person who has any knowledge of the whereabouts of the owner provide written notice to the museum.
(4) A statement that if written assertion of title is not presented by the owner to the museum within 90 days after the date of the final published notice, the property shall be considered abandoned or donated and shall become the property of the museum.
(c) A copy of all notices required in this chapter relating to property in the form of identifiable works of art that changed hands in Europe between the years 1933 and 1945 shall be sent to The Art Loss Register or any successor organization having similar purposes on or before the date on which the notices are mailed or first published.
§ 1155. PROPERTY VESTED IN MUSEUMS
(a) If no written assertion of title has been presented by the owner to the museum within 90 days after the date of the second published notice, title to the property shall vest in the museum free of all claims of the owner and any other person claiming under the owner.
(b) A person who purchases or otherwise acquires property from a museum acquires good title to the property if the museum has acquired title to the property under this chapter.
§ 1156. EXEMPTIONS
This chapter shall not apply to either of the following:
(1) Any property that changed hands by theft, seizure, confiscation, forced sale, or other involuntary means in Europe between 1933 and 1945.
(2) Any property reported as stolen in writing to a law enforcement officer, insurer, or The Art Loss Register, or any successor organization having similar purposes, notwithstanding any notice provided pursuant to section 1155 of this title.
The Vermont General Assembly
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