As already stated, one of the features of the SNK policy was that in the case of works of art that had been sold, the owner had to refund the price paid therefor if he wanted to repossess the works of art sold involuntarily. The Committee holds that the strict application of this principle can only be described as extremely cold and unjust, in particular because many Jewish owners used the proceeds exclusively to try and flee the country and because in many cases the proceeds did not actually benefit the owners of the works of art.
Although it would seem to be a simple solution just to refrain from demanding any repayment, in the opinion of the Committee this would conflict with the principles of equality before the law, since in the years after 1945 some owners of works of art did in fact repay the asked price and since it was precisely the requirement of repayment which in many cases presented an obstacle that frustrated the actual restitution of works of art. Entirely declining all repayments would therefore be diametrically opposed to the principles of the restoration of property rights applying at the time and would stamp with pointlessness the efforts of rightful claimants who in those days scraped together money, often clearly at very great pains, to buy back works of art. It is however necessary to relax the implementation of the repayment rule considerably. The basic principle governing this point should be that repayment of the sales proceeds is required only if it can be proved that the then owners or their heirs received money which they were free to spend, including any sums used in repayment of prior, normal debts or loans. There are no grounds for requiring any repayment in all cases in which the money received was probably spent solely on attempts, whether or not successful, to leave the country or to go into hiding. Likewise, no repayment should be demanded if the sales proceeds never directly reached the persons entitled (payment into an inaccessible account).
Such a relaxation of the rules is entirely within the policy lines established after the war, since article 27(5) of Royal Decree E 100 (Restitution of Legal Rights Decree) provides expressly that the Council for the Restoration of Property Rights "may direct that the sales price must be transferred in part or in full to the State (…)", contrary to an earlier wording of this article which provided for the compulsory reclamation of the sales price.
Under the rules of such a policy, only sums received in connection with forced sales that actually accrued to the seller's capital as well as sums received after the war by the entitled parties by way of payment of blocked accounts would have to be repaid, at any rate to the extent that there is any certainty on these points. In deciding whether there are grounds for demanding repayment, the rightful claimants should, where necessary, always be given the benefit of the doubt: if there are sufficient grounds to doubt whether the party concerned actually made some money out of a sale at the time, no repayment should be required.
If the inquiry results in the conclusion that it is justified to require partial or full repayment of the sales price, such repayment should be indexed in conformity with the general price-index figure. Such indexation is necessary for the sake of equality before the law compared to those who did buy back their property in the after-war years and will moreover prevent extra profits being gained now by those who at the time very consciously opted for money instead of restitution of works of art. The Committee is aware that for some rightful claimants changes in the market value of the individual works of art concerned may bring either a profit or a loss, but it sees no possible way of also incorporating this factor, which varies from one object to the next, in a general policy,
Any sums still to be paid should be appropriated to a specific cause, which may be identified at a later stage. In the opinion of the Committee these sums must not be added to the general public fund in order to avoid even the semblance of any profit coming to the State from the sufferings of war.
The Ekkart Committee, like the Kordes Committee, takes an extremely critical attitude toward passing on the costs of the restitution machinery to the rightful claimants, as the SNK did in the years 1945-1952 because the Dutch government expected the foundation to be self-supporting in the matter of costs. Whenever a restitution is made, whether or not coupled to repayment of the sales price, the authorities should always refrain from charging any such costs.
- The Committee recommends that the sales proceeds be brought into the discussion only if and to the extent that the then seller or his heirs actually obtained the free disposal of said proceeds.
- The Committee recommends that for the purposes of applying this rule the rightful claimants be given the benefit of the doubt whenever it is uncertain whether the seller actually enjoyed the proceeds.
- The Committee recommends that whenever it is necessary to couple a restitution to the partial or full repayment of the sales proceeds, the amount involved be indexed in accordance with the general price-index figure.
- The Committee recommends that the authorities, when restituting works of art, refrain from passing on the administration costs fixed by the SNK at the time.