Amsterdam museum can keep Kadinsky painting, court rules
The Stedelijk Museum does not have to return painting Bild mit Hausern by Wassily Kandinsky to the relatives of the 1909 painting's former owner, the court in Amsterdam ruled on Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by the relatives, NU.nl reports.
The city of Amsterdam bought the painting at an auction on 9 October 19340 and added it to the collection of the Stedelijk Museum. Over the past years, the museum participated in a investigation into the provenance of its art works. This showed that the Kandinsky may have been a form of looted art. There were indications that former owner Emanuel Lewenstein was forced by the Nazis to auction Bild mit Hausern.
The case was further investigated by the Restitution Committee, that decided in 2016 that the museum could keep the work. The advancing Nazi regime may have contributed to the painting being auctioned, but more factors played a role. According to the committee, the owners were already facing financial difficulties before the German invasion. "In the Committee's opinion, this offers a less strong basis for restitution," the committee said at the time.
The relatives of Lewenstein went to court to overturn this decision. But the court ruled against them on Wednesday. The court pointed out that its judicial review framework is legally limited in this case. "This concerns a binding recommendation from the Restitutions Committee, in which both the municipality and heirs themselves indicated before the investigation that they will accept the binding recommendation of the committee," the court said.