A Texan who claims his ancestors' property was confiscated after the Bolshevik Revolution lost a bid yesterday to seize items in a traveling exhibit of treasures from Russia's last czar.
Lee Alexander Magness, a lawyer, won a $234 million judgment last year in federal court in Texas against cultural agencies in Russia.
But U.S. District Judge Charles R. Butler of Mobile, where the "Nicholas & Alexandra" exhibit is now showing, refused to let him seize some of the hundreds of items to help satisfy the judgment.
Butler ruled that the art and cultural objects of a foreign state are immune from seizure, even if they are being used in a commercial venture.
The items sought included the Romanovs' coronation carriage, a grand piano, paintings and miniature gem-encrusted imperial regalia.
Magness claimed that the for-profit nature of the exhibit allowed him to stake a claim on the treasures, which came from the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and other Russian museums.
The Texas judgment was awarded last year to Magness and other descendants of Russian businessman Ivan Karlovitch Schroder. They sued Russia for compensation for property taken after the revolution.
A spokeswoman for the exhibit said she was unaware of the lawsuit in Mobile. The exhibit ends tomorrow.