01/18/2013 07:44 am ET Updated Jan 18, 2013

Russia Held In Contempt In Case That Sparked Its U.S. Art-loan Ban

Russia's ban on art loans to American museums has lasted more than two years now -- a strange and disruptive boomerang effect of a rancorous legal battle between the Russian government and the Chassidic Jewish group, Chabad.

The heat in the legal fight -- which itself has nothing to do with art or museums -- intensified Wednesday when a federal judge in Washington declared the Russian government in contempt of court for ignoring his 2010 order that it must return a disputed massive archive of historic religious books and manuscripts known as the Schneerson Collection to the New York-based Chabad. The judge imposed fines of $50,000 a day.