Amsterdam to return Kandinsky painting taken during WWII to family heirs
The municipality of Amsterdam is going to return the painting Bild mit Häusern by Wassily Kandinsky to the Lewenstein family, heirs of the owners. Previous attempts by the family to get the painting back failed, but the municipality now believes that "remediation of injustice" must come first, the city management wrote to the city council on Thursday.
The painting was part of the Lewensteins' art collection before World War Two. In 1940 the municipality bought the work at an auction while it was unknown how the painting ended up there, and included it in the collection of the Stedelijk Museum. In 2012, the heirs of the couple asked the municipality for the painting to be returned, but according to binding advice from the Restitution Committee, which advises on whether or not to return art that changed hands during the occupation, this was not necessary. The heirs went to court, but the court also ruled that the municipality did not have to return the painting.
The municipality wanted to have the Restitution Committee look at the case again, but is now refraining from doing so because it assumes the committee will now rule that the family is entitled to the Kandinsky's work. In the meantime, the criteria with which the committee makes a ruling have changed. Correction of injustice now comes first.
Reporting by ANP