All parties notified early about €175 million Rembrandt deal, except far-right leader Baudet
The Cabinet notified almost all party leaders in Parliament shortly before it emerged there was an imminent deal to purchase a 1636 oil painting by Rembrandt using 150 million euros of State funds. The only party leader who was not notified in advance was Thierry Baudet of FvD, as Ingrid van Engelshoven, the minister of culture, was not confident Baudet would keep the deal under wraps.
She feared Baudet could potentially disrupt the acquisition of the painting, known as The Standard Bearer, because of the political tactics he employs, she told newspaper AD. “We had to be certain that the purchase would remain secret,” she stated. “The importance of confidentiality” outweighed the need to be transparent with Baudet.
“The minister has a completely distorted image of him,” a FvD spokesperson told AD. He confirmed that Baudet was not informed of the deal. FvD is one of 19 parties in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Parliament, where it represents five out of the 150 seats. It also is one of 15 parties in the Eerste Kamer, the Dutch Senate, with three of the 75 seats.
After several years trying to negotiate a deal with the Louvre and the French State, it emerged in early December that France was not able to put together the money to meet the Rothschild family’s sale price. The Dutch State and the Rijksmuseum also made it clear that the Netherlands was very interested in acquiring the Rembrandt should the French deal fall through.
Soon after France and the Rothschilds could not come to terms, Van Engelshoven notified the political leaders. She did not ask permission, but informed them about the situation, AD reported. The purchase was announced on December 8 at a final price tag of 175 million euros, with the Rembrandt Association and the Rijksmuseum fund putting together the final 25 million euros needed.
The deal was approved by the Tweede Kamer on December 16, with some opposition parties critical that so much money was being spent on a single painting while the cultural sector struggled under the weight of ongoing Covid-19 measures and restrictions.