Trouw: Amsterdam wants to investigate the restitution of ‘stolen’ Kandinsky again

[THIS IS AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THE ORIGINAL DUTCH ARTICLE “Amsterdam wil opnieuw teruggave ‘geroofde’ Kandinsky onderzoeken” PUBLISHED ON TROUW ON FEBRUARY 19, 2021].


The painting ‘Bild mit Hausern’ by the Russian painter Vassily Kandinsky in the Stedelijk Museum. EPA image

Was a Kandinsky painting stolen from the Lewenstein family in World War II or not? The municipality of Amsterdam wants a new investigation.

Harmen van Dijk February 19, 2021 , 5:31 PM

The municipality of Amsterdam wants a new investigation into whether the painting ‘Bild mit Häusern’ by Vassily Kandinsky should be returned to the Lewenstein heirs. The work that hangs in the Stedelijk Museum was purchased during the Second World War. According to the heirs, the Jewish family involuntarily renounced the painting, but the restitution committee, which decides on Nazi robbery, ruled in 2018 that there was insufficient reason to return the precious work.

In December, the Kohnstamm Commission issued a critical report advocating a more active and generous policy of restitution of Nazi robbery . The Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema and alderman Touria Meliani (art and culture) join this. The current restitution policy of Nazi raided art in the Netherlands is not in the service of the restoration of rights, they write in a letter to the city council. According to them, the new assessment method should not only apply to new restitution cases, but also to current and settled cases. “The return of these works of art can mean a lot to the victims and is of great importance for the recognition of the injustice that has been done to them,” the council letter states.

This brings about movement again in the Kandinsky case. In December, a claim from the heirs for restitution was rejected by the court . Their cooperation is required for a reassessment.