Press release RC 1.70


THE HAGUE - The State of the Netherlands must return a collection of paintings, including works by Jan van Goyen and C. Engelbrechtsz, to the heirs of their former owner. This is the recommendation issued by the Restitutions Committee, which has also judged that the heirs must pay EUR 325,000 for the paintings.

The collection comprises 12 paintings that belonged to the Jewish private art collector Hans Ludwig Larsen. In 2007, his grandchildren submitted a request for their restitution to the Minister for Education, Culture and Science. After Larsen's death in 1937, his widow fled to the United States with her two children shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War. A museum in Leiden took the paintings, which at that moment were part of an undivided estate, into its custody. A Nazi-appointed Verwalter then took them from the museum and sold them in 1943 to, among others, one of Hitler's buyers. The Committee shares the applicants' opinion that this constitutes involuntary loss of possession due to circumstances directly related to the Nazi regime. 

An investigation has proved that the Verwalter received a cash sum when the paintings were sold and that this was paid to the executors of Larsen's estate in the Netherlands after the war. The Committee has judged that the heirs obtained free disposal of these sales proceeds and has decided, therefore, that restitution of the paintings be subject to repayment by the heirs of the sum that was received. After deduction of the costs recovered from the rightful claimants during the war and converted into current price levels, this amounts to EUR 325,000. 

The Restitutions Committee
Since January 2002, the Advisory Committee on the Assessment of Restitution Applications for Items of Cultural Value and the Second World War, or Restitutions Committee, has provided recommendations to the Minister for Education, Culture and Science regarding 75 claims to items of cultural value in the possession of the national government. In addition, the Committee has also issued three binding recommendations concerning disputes between two parties over an item of cultural value not in the possession of the national government. Since 1 January 2009, the Committee has been under the chairmanship of Willibrord Davids.

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

Relevant recommendations: