Anne Webber, from the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, and Wesley Fisher, of the Jewish Claims Conference, are calling out the Dutch Restitution Committee (DRC) for establishing a “hierarchy” for dealing with art that was looted by the Nazis. The committee is viewing works that were seized and confiscated at a higher importance level than forced sales during the regime.
Since 2002, the DRC has returned 74 works to their rightful owners or heirs, rejected 63 claims and partially rejected/granted another 19. In a recent ruling over Painting With Houses by Wassily Kandinsky, the committee determined that there was no conclusive evidence that the Jewish family which owned it had sold it under duress. It also determined that the claimant had declared “no past emotional or other intense bond with the work,” whereas it “has important art historical value and is an essential link in the limited overview of Kandinsky’s work in the Museum’s collection.” So, the interests of a museum outweigh those of the family it was taken from? You cannot be serious?
Alfred Hammerstein, of the DRC stated that “the Committee is entitled to take into account that the party claiming the painting has had no connection with it, and is only interested in restitution because of the proceeds arising from selling it.” Does that really matter? If a work was stolen (or sold under duress), it should be returned to the family.