Press release RC 1.113

RESTITUTIONS COMMITTEE ISSUES RECOMMENDATION ON SECOND GUTMANN CLAIM

The Restitutions Committee has advised the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science to return five objects of decorative art to the heirs of F.B.E. Gutmann and to reject a claim to the painting Venus, Bacchus and Ceres with sleeping Amor by J. de Wit (NK 1960).

The decorative art objects are claimed by the heirs of Jewish banker and art collector F.B.E. Gutmann. After the occupation of the Netherlands in 1940, Gutmann made plans to flee abroad with his wife. In preparation for his departure, he transferred several works of art to Paris and sold some two hundred works to German art dealers Böhler and Haberstock in 1942. Before they could put their escape plan into effect, Gutmann and his wife were arrested by the Nazis in 1943 and died in concentration camps. After the liberation, Gutmann's children attempted to retrieve the lost family property. With regard to the art objects sold to Böhler and Haberstock, the post-war Dutch authorities took the view that the sale had been voluntary. The court before which this case was brought in 1952 ruled in favour of the Gutmann family, deeming the sale involuntary. 

On the basis of its investigation, the Committee concludes that the five claimed objects of decorative art (NK 605, NK 3147 a-b, NK 3214, NK 3216 and NK 3217) were part of the transaction concluded with Böhler and Haberstock. Until recently, the provenance of these objects was unknown. Referring to the judicial decision of 1952, the Committee deems the loss of possession involuntary. The Committee therefore advises the State Secretary to return these five objects to the Gutmann heirs. 
As regards the painting Venus, Bacchus and Ceres with sleeping Amor by J. de Wit, the Committee recommends rejecting the claim. Although the Committee found the name Gutmann in documentation about the painting during its archive investigations, it is still not clear, even after more extensive research, on what basis this rests. The Committee considers that there is a chance that the recording of the name Gutmann is based on a misunderstanding and finds that it has therefore not been proved with a high degree of probability that the painting was in F.B.E. Gutmann's possession at any time after 10 May 1940.

The Restitutions Committee 
Since January 2002, the Restitutions Committee has provided recommendations to the Minister for Education, Culture and Science regarding 91 claims to items of cultural value in the possession of the national government. In addition, the Committee can also issue binding recommendations concerning disputes between two parties over an item of cultural value not in the possession of the national government.

More information:
For more information, please contact Evelien Campfens, secretary/rapporteur of the Restitutions Committee on +31 (0)70 376 59 92.

Relevant recommendations: