NRC: Heirs get painting Kandinsky back from the municipality of Amsterdam

[THIS IS AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THE ORIGINAL DUTCH ARTICLE “Erfgenamen krijgen schilderij Kandinsky terug van gemeente Amsterdam” PUBLISHED ON THE NRC ON AUGUST 26, 2021. (]

Roof art Amsterdam returns Bild mit Häusern to the Lewenstein family. The city council did not want that at first, but now believes that “redressing injustice” should be paramount.

Esther Meerman August 26, 2021 Reading time 1 minute

The painting Bild mit Hausern by Wassily Kandinsky in the Stedelijk Museum.

Photo Ramon van Flymen/Hollandse Hoogte/ANP

The painting Bild mit Häusern by Wassily Kandinsky is being returned by the municipality of Amsterdam to the Lewenstein family, heirs of the owners. The city ​​council wrote this to the city council on Thursday.

Before the war, the painting was in the art collection of the Lewensteins. In October 1940 it was bought by the city of Amsterdam at an auction and included in the collection of the Stedelijk Museum. It was not clear how the artwork ended up at the auction.

The heirs of the Lewensteins asked the municipality in 2012 for the painting to be returned, after which the municipality had the matter investigated by the Restitutions Committee of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. He concluded in 2016 that the municipality did not have to return the work — which is now worth tens of millions of euros. The heirs then went to court there, who ruled in December 2016 that the municipality was allowed to keep the work from 1909. The city council now believes that “redressing injustice” should be paramount.

An advisory report was published for Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven (D66, OCW) on 7 December 2020, in which the current policy on restitution of war art was critically assessed. That would be too formalistic and insufficiently empathetic. The government subsequently decided in June to relinquish all remaining Jewish looted art in the possession of the Dutch government.