The New York Times: Kandinsky Painting Returned to Jewish Heirs by Amsterdam Museum

Dutch officials, citing their “moral duty,” gave over the work which had been held by the Stedelijk Museum since 1940.

February 28, 2022, by Colin Moynihan – Excerpt

Wassily Kandinsky, Painting with Houses, 1909. Image Credit: Courtesy of James Palmer & Mondex Corporation.

The City of Amsterdam on Monday handed over a painting by the Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky to heirs of a Jewish couple who had sold it as they tried to escape the Netherlands after the Nazi invasion during World War II.

The 1909 work, “Painting With Houses,” had been held since 1940 by the Stedelijk Museum, which is responsible for the city of Amsterdam’s 95,000-item art collection.

In a statement, the city said it had reached an agreement with the heirs of the couple, Robert Lewenstein and Irma Klein, “on the basis of mutual respect” and settled an ownership dispute that began years ago.

The issue of whether to return the work had become part of a broader debate over how Dutch authorities should evaluate restitution requests.

The Dutch Restitutions Commission, a national panel that handles claims of Nazi looting, found in 2018 that the Stedelijk could keep the painting. That decision was one of several in which the restitution panel said it was balancing the interests of cultural institutions against those of people trying to recover artworks that are said to have been seized during World War II.

The panel’s decision was upheld by a Dutch court. But a committee convened by the Dutch culture minister later faulted the restitution panel’s “balance of interests” approach, leading two members of the restitution commission, including its chairman, to resign.

The heirs and city agreed that the restitution “does justice to the principle of returning works of art that were involuntarily removed from possession during the Second World War due to circumstances directly related to the Nazi regime,” according to a statement announcing the transfer.

James Palmer of the Mondex Corporation, a company that pursues restitution claims and has been assisting the heirs, said: “Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the journey of the Lewenstein family to achieve the justice, dignity and respect that they have been rightfully seeking for so many years.

This is an excerpt from this New York Times article. Full article through this link: