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Netherlands- Amsterdam Museum Refuses to Return Nazi-Looted Art to Family #general #holocaust #announcements


Jan Meisels Allen
 

 

 

Wassily Kandinsky’s Bild mit Häusern (Painting with Houses) is the focus of litigation in the Netherlands. The painting was sold to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1940 for 160 guilders, way below the market price which today is worth €20 million—or the amount the lawsuit is about. The heirs of Robert Lewenstein, fled the Netherlands for France in 1940. The painting, which Lewenstein had owned, was sold to the museum months after Lewenstein fled.

 

The restitutions committee, established in 2002 to make judgments on such claims, ruled in 2018 that the museum can keep the painting, claiming it was bought in good faith and that Lewenstein’s finances had been deteriorating at the time of the sale.

 

These claims are disputed by the Lewenstein heirs. “Immediately after the invasion, the Germans started looting art. Pressure and coercion and the justified fear that lived among the Jews were used.” “Immediately after the invasion, the Germans started looting art. Pressure and coercion and the justified fear that lived among the Jews were used.” The family attorney said to label the auction of the works belonging to the family as voluntary is bizarre as the Nazis marched past the Lewenstein offices on Dam Square.

 

The claimants (family) said four of the seven members of the restitution committee have a conflict of interest, as they are members of the Stedelijk Museum’s businesses club or work at an office that sponsors the museum.  The claim of bias was denied by Paul Loeb, representing the Stedelijk Museum and the City of Amsterdam, who told the court that none of the committee members had a financial interest in the museum or had ever been employed by it.

 

A court decision is due on December 16.

 

To read more see:

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2020/nov/02/dutch-jewish-family-allege-bias-over-refusal-to-return-20m-painting

 

Jan Meisels Allen

Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee