In general, the research work done since September 1998 in implementation of the project Origins Unknown confirms the conclusions laid down in the pilot study report of April 1998. Meticulous provenance research often makes it possible to recover information concerning the history of works of art that was unknown to the SNK and in some cases such new information will produce evidence of property having been lost involuntarily while the rightful owners did not submit a claim for such loss after the war. In some cases it also turns out to be possible after all to establish a link between objects still present and objects whose involuntarily loss was reported by the original owners but which were not recognised at the time. In such cases the concepts of new claim and new facts used in the current government restitution policy may serve to initiate a restitution procedure.

As was already observed in the pilot study report, apart from the items referred to above there are many items whose origin can be traced with certainty and which came into German hands for instance because they were sold voluntarily by Dutch persons not belonging to the persecuted population groups and which therefore came and remained in the custody of the Dutch State quite lawfully after their recuperation. The investi­ga­tions also confirm the finding that there is a large number of works of art from the NK collection for which it is impossible to reconstruct a full provenance history, so that only reactions to the publication of the information that is now available may cause evidence of the possible involuntary loss of the property to emerge. For this reason the full publication of the research that has been done so far in reports including publication via the Internet must still be considered an important instrument for discovering cases of looting, confiscation and forced sale. The fact that the investigations occasionally make it possible to unearth unknown and/or unidenti­fied information which may lead to restitutions makes it clear that these investigations must be continued and completed in conformity with the project plan. At the same time, moreover, the investigations are producing a lot of information about the methods used for the restitution of works of art in the years 1945-1952 and thus provide material for formulating recommendations to the government on the policy to be conducted henceforth.

The findings are entirely in agreement with those of other government committees that have tackled the issues of war losses and restoration of property rights. In general, the finding of the Scholten Committee that in several respects the system of legal restitu­tion was characterised by a strictly bureaucratic approach without any flexibility and turning a blind eye on the exceptional position and interests of the victims, is very much applicable to the conduct of the Netherlands Art Property Foundation (herein­after referred to as the SNK). The remarks of the Kordes Committee about the formal and businesslike approach taken by the authorities and others are fully applicable to the SNK, while the critical comments of the same committee about the fact that the administration costs of the system for the restoration of property rights were charged to Jewish estates are directly applicable to the guidelines adopted by the SNK for charging the costs of the art restitution process to the rightful owners when restituting works of art.

Based on our examination of the documents relating to a great number of post-war claims we must describe the way in which the Netherlands Art Property Foundation generally dealt with the problems of restitution as legalistic, bureaucratic, cold and often even callous.