The Netherlands

The Netherlands: The Dutch Experience—An Assessment of Restitution Efforts

Like other countries that had been occupied by Germany, at the end of World War II the Netherlands received many works of art from the Central Collecting Points administered by the Allies. The Dutch Government set up the Netherlands Art Property Foundation to handle post-War restitution requests and applications. This foundation imposed stringent requirements on claimants who were hoping to recover their property. Because of these requirements, some victims did not even file claims and many claimants who did were denied for lack of supporting evidence and other reasons. As a result, many of the works of art returned to the Netherlands by the Allies remained in the custody of the Dutch Government.

In 1997, the Dutch Government created the Origins Unknown Committee (also known as the “Ekkart Committee”) to investigate the provenance of art in the custody of the successor agency—the Netherlands Art Property Foundation. Based on its investigations, the Origins Unknown Committee made recommendations to the Dutch Government regarding restitution policy. As a result, in 2001, the Dutch Government set up the Advisory Committee on the Assessment of Restitution Applications for Items of Cultural Value and the Second World War (generally known as the “Restitutions Committee”) to evaluate restitution claims and advise the Ministry for Education, Culture and Science on them. More than 90 claims were received by the Restitutions Committee between 2002 and 2007; more than one third of these were submitted in 2007. In February 2006, based on the Restitutions Committee’s recommendation, the Dutch Government made one of its largest restitutions when it agreed to return 200 works of art, mostly Old Master paintings, to the heir of Jacques Goudstikker, a noted Dutch art dealer who died tragically during the War and whose gallery was looted by Hermann Göring.

J. van Noordt, A Girl in a Pastoral Dress Holding a Basket
Morpurgo Collection n.d.

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