Wednesday, December 16, 2020
In a decision watched closely by restitution experts, a court in Amsterdam ruled on Wednesday that the Stedelijk Museum there can retain a Wassily Kandinsky painting that it acquired during World War II and which came from a Jewish collection.
The 1909 work, "Painting with Houses," has been the focus of a restitution battle that has been viewed as a litmus test for Dutch restitutions policy. Critics of the Netherlands' approach say the case represents an attempt by the Dutch to weigh the interests of its museums over justice for the victims of Nazi looting and their heirs.
Earlier this month, a committee established by the Dutch minister of culture, known as the Kohnstamm Committee, found fault with the Restitutions Commission, recommending that it change course and take a more "empathetic" approach to claimants. In response to the report, two members of the Restitutions Commission, including its chairman, resigned.
As a result of the report, lawyers for the Jewish claimants in the Kandinsky case and international restitutions experts anticipated that the Amsterdam court would overturn the previous decision by the Restitutions Commission. Instead, it upheld it. It found that the advice of the commission "cannot be annulled" because the court found no "serious defects" in its reasoning.
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