Amsterdam returns Kandinsky painting to heirs of Jewish former owners
On Monday, the municipality of Amsterdam returned the painting Bild mit Häusern by Wassily Kandinsky to the Lewenstein family - the heirs of the Jewish people who owned the painting until it was taken from them in World War II. Until today, the painting hung in the Stedelijk Museum.
The heirs of the former owners applied for the return of Bild mit Häusern in 2013. They and Amsterdam submitted the case to the Restitution Committee. In 2018, the Committee ruled that the municipality was not obliged to return the painting. The heirs appealed the decision. In 2020, the Kohnstamm Committee recommended that the assessment framework for restitution be reassessed.
In February last year, the municipality of Amsterdam met with the heir again. Both parties considered it plausible that the Restitution Committee would recommend giving the painting back to the heirs based on the new assessment framework. They, therefore, decided not to resubmit the application and instead settled the matter among themselves. Amsterdam agreed to return the painting to the heirs.
"As a city, we bear a great responsibility for dealing with the indescribable suffering and injustice inflicted on the Jewish population in the Second World War. To the extent that anything can be restored, we as a society have a moral duty to act accordingly," said deputy mayor Touria Meliani, alderman of Arts and Culture. "This certainly applies to the many works of art that were in the possession of Jewish citizens and were looted by Nazis or were otherwise lost to the owners."
James Palmer of the Mondex Corporation, who represents the Lewenstein family, is pleased with how this turned out. "The Netherlands can be proud that the new restitution guidelines of its Kohnstamm Committee has established a viable and exemplary framework to find just and fair solutions for claimants and may serve as an example to which other countries can aspire to achieve."