In implementation of the assignment to advise the government on the policy to be followed with regard to the restitution of works of art recuperated to the Netherlands after the war, which are part of the so-called NK collection administered by the state, the Origins Unknown Advisory Committee – which is usually called the ‘Ekkart Committee’ after its Chairman, Prof. R.E.O. Ekkart – issued recommendations in 2001 and 2003. The first series of recommendations was intended to facilitate the return of works of art to (the heirs of) private owners. The second series applied the main lines of the recommendations concerning private art ownership to the art trade.
Both series of recommendations adopted by the government have created a framework for a liberalized restitution policy, that has already led to visible results. The Restitutions Committee (short for Advisory Committee on the Assessment of Restitution Applications for items of cultural value and the second World War), that was set up in 2001, has assessed the claims submitted within the framework of the recommendations and the government policy which is based on the latter. Circumstances and available clues that differ from case-to-case were hereby taken into consideration. The manner in which the Restitutions Committee has substantiated its advisory task clearly indicates that this committee has been able to translate the spirit and the letter of the recommendations issued in an adequate manner as also the policy based on them into recommendations occasioned by individual applications for restitution.
There are still a few points of a more general nature on which – according to promises made earlier – the committee would advise at the end of research. These points are:
- the duration of the period within which the current liberalized restitution policy is to remain valid
- the position of the artworks which – during the years after the war – prove to have been (possibly) unjustifiably recuperated to the Netherlands
- the position of the works of art in the NK collection which ended up in German hands due to theft, confiscation or forced sale, but for which no potential claimants can be found
- the destination of any possible sums that will have to be paid by the recipients in the event of the return of the works of art
- the necessary steps to be taken in order to conclude the entire process