De Telegrraf: Kandinsky painting returned to Jewish heirs after long struggle

[THIS IS AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THE ORIGINAL DUTCH ARTICLE “Schilderij Kandinsky na lange strijd terug naar Joodse erfgenamen” PUBLISHED ON DE TELEGRAAF ON AUGUST 26, 2021.(


The Stedelijk Museum and the City of Amsterdam have dropped their stance on the painting ‘ Bild mit Häusern ‘ by the Russian-French artist Wassily Kandinsky and will return it to its heirs. Before the Second World War, the well-known painting belonged to the collection of the Jewish sewing machine family Lewenstein, who bought the artwork in 1923 for 500 guilders.

In a reply to the council, mayor Femke Halsema says that the council recognizes the importance of the heirs – third generation – of the rightful owners. Contrary to the binding advice of the Restitutions Committee from 2018 (confirmed by the judge in 2020), the focus should no longer be on ‘the weighing up of interests’ but ‘the recovery of injustice’ for victims,” ​​writes the mayor, who emphasizes art that is involuntarily came into possession of Nazis, always wanting to return.

In all, five heirs have claimed the painting in recent years. Three Amsterdammers – two sisters and a brother – and two American descendants. The Amsterdam link runs through Irma Klein, heiress to the painting Bild mit Häusern , which Kandinsky painted in 1909. The American branch makes claims through Robert Lewenstein, who was divorced from Irma Klein in early 1940 and fled to America with a new wife.

Attorney Simon van der Sluijs handles the transfer on behalf of the heirs. “Some formalities will now have to be completed between the museum and the heirs. That takes about two to three months.” No mention is made of where the painting will eventually end up.