BROOKLYN (CN) – Japanese boxes inlaid with ivory from century-old elephant tusks were seized for being shipped without an endangered species permit, an art shipper says in a $700,000 claim against a logistics company.
Hedley’s sued Airwaves Global Logistics in Kings County Court. It claims its shipment of 19th century Japanese Inro was seized at John F. Kennedy Airport because Airwaves did not get permits for the ivory, as required by the Endangered Species Act.
Inro are small, highly decorated containers that were used to carry medicines or personal seals for stamping. Dating back to the 16th century, they were often worn on the belts of men in the Japanese upper class.
Hedley’s, an art shipper, says it tapped Airwaves Global Logistics to handle transportation of the Inro and other art and collectibles through Customs from New York to London.
The Inro shipment contained 12 pieces, each inlaid with ivory, Hedley’s says.
“The export of items containing ivory, such as the Inro shipment, is subject to regulation under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, signed on March 3, 1973,” the complaint states.
CITES is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Hedley’s says Airwaves Global Logistics took the shipment to JFK Airport without getting the appropriate CITES endorsement from Fish & Wildlife.
“On or about May 5, 2011, the Inro shipment was seized by the CITES Team, Border Force, UK Border Agency (‘UKBF’), because the required CITES permit had not been endorsed by FWS at the time of expropriation,” the complaint states.
In its 9-page complaint, Hedley’s sputters with indignation at the oversight.
“Defendant’s actions were so outrageous as to evidence a high degree of moral turpitude, and such a reckless disregard of the law and defendant’s lawful duty to Hedley’s, as to imply a criminal indifference to civil obligations,” the complaint states.
Hedley’s seeks $717,567 in punitive damages for gross negligence, breach of implied covenant of good faith and intentional infliction of economic harm.
It is represented by John F. Lagan of the Long Island City Art Center.