Recommendation regarding Stodel
In a letter dated 16 February 2009, the Minister for Education, Culture and Science (hereafter referred to as: ‘the Minister’) requested the Restitutions Committee (hereafter referred to as: ‘the Committee’) to issue a recommendation regarding the application of 9 January 2009 by M.W.-M., also on behalf of H.B.M. en L.M. (hereafter referred to as: ‘the applicants’), for the restitution of the painting View in a Dutch Town by A. Eversen. The claimed painting was returned to the Netherlands after the Second World War and is now part of the Netherlands Art Property Collection (NK collection) under inventory number NK 1762. The claimed work is currently housed in the depot of the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage.
Following the request for advice by the Minister, the Committee conducted a fact-finding investigation, the results of which were recorded in a draft investigatory report of 3 May 2010. On 4 May 2010, the draft investigatory report was sent to the applicants for comment. On the same day, it was also sent to the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science (hereafter referred to as: ‘the State Secretary’) with a request for more factual information. The applicants responded to the draft report in a letter dated 14 May 2010. The State Secretary informed the Committee on 28 May 2010 that she had no additional information to provide. The investigatory report was adopted with a number of amendments on 7 June 2010. For the facts of the case, the Committee refers to this report.
The applicants were represented in the procedure in question by E.v.T.
The applicants have requested restitution of the painting View in a Dutch Town by A. Eversen (NK 1762), which was said to have been the property of Joseph Stodel (hereafter referred to as: ‘Stodel’). The applicants stated that M.W.-M. is Stodel’s granddaughter and that H.B.M. and L.M. are his grandson and daughter-in-law, respectively. The applicants submitted a certificate of inheritance issued on 7 December 1948 by G.T. Reeser Cuperus, at the time a public notary based in Amsterdam, which concerns both Stodel’s estate and that of his wife Mietje Stodel-Krijn, and from which it can be concluded that the testator’s since deceased daughter, M.M.-S., was the rightful claimant to both estates. M.M.-S. was the mother of M.W.-M. and L.M.M. Deceased in 2008, the latter was M.W.-M’s brother, H.B.M.’s father and L.M.’s husband. This information gives the Committee no reason to doubt the status of the applicants as Stodel’s rightful heirs.
Stodel was born in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, on 25 June 1875, the son of Benedictus Stodel and Marianne Slap, who were both Jewish. On 4 April 1901, Stodel married Mietje Krijn, who gave birth to a daughter, Marianne Stodel, on 19 October that same year. On 1 July 1930, Stodel established a one-man business, J. Stodel, at Weesperplein in Amsterdam, cutting and dealing in diamonds. The Stodel-Krijns lived at Sarphatistraat 119 in Amsterdam.
Stodel died on 28 September 1941 in Amsterdam. The occupying authorities ordered that the goods belonging to his estate be placed under the stewardship of ‘Verwalter’ M.H.H. Franssen, a Dutch lawyer who, on 13 October 1941, was appointed by Seyss-Inquart to administer the estates that fell under the provisions of Regulation 26/1940 (Enemy Property, also non-Jewish). Franssen was probably involved in the liquidation of Stodel’s estate because one of Stodel’s heirs, his daughter Marianne, lived in the United States during the occupation. Stodel’s wife was arrested at the behest of the occupying authorities in 1942 and transferred to Westerbork. She was then deported to Auschwitz where she died on or around 14 January 1943.
Documents found in the archive of Van Marle & Bignell auction house in The Hague, in the Netherlands Institute for Art History, refer to Stodel’s estate. During the occupation, this auction house valued and sold (Jewish-owned) works of art confiscated by the occupying forces. The archive includes a valuation list from 7 September 1942 of Stodel’s household effects, which mentions a work of art described as: ‘1 [antiek schilderij] A. Eversen / 500.--’ [1 (antique painting) A. Eversen / 500]. In addition, the archive of the Netherlands Art Property Foundation (hereafter referred to as: ‘the SNK’) contains a declaration form from Van Marle & Bignell concerning the currently claimed painting on which the auction house noted that the work was ‘oorspronkelijk in bezit’ [originally in possession of] by ‘Stodel Amsterdam’ and that it related to a ‘gedwongen verkoop’ [forced sale].
Documentation from the Netherlands Property Administration Institute shows that, in the period between March and July 1943, ‘Verwalter’ Franssen had Van Marle & Bignell auction off objects from Stodel’s estate totalling NLG 97,779.46. The currently claimed painting is listed in the auction catalogue of May 1943 under number 56 and illustrated on plate XII. In a letter to the bureau for restoration payments and the restoration of property (hereafter referred to as: ‘Bureau Hergo’), the successor of the SNK, dated 13 June 1951, the auction house declares that the auctioned painting ‘[in opdracht van] Dr. M. Franssen is verkocht onder Boedel Stodel’ [was sold on the instructions of Dr M. Franssen as part of the Stodel estate]. This letter also mentions that the work was bought at auction by Erhard Göpel, who was one of Hitler’s art buyers. According to the letter, Göpel paid NLG 4,200 for the painting, which amount was transferred to Franssen’s bank account (minus auction costs) on 11 June 1943.
After the war, Stodel’s daughter, M.M.-S., registered the losses incurred by the sale of her father’s estate with the Schade-Enquête-Commissie [Damage Inquest Committee]. As a result, the Central Property Investigation Department of the Ministry of Finance (hereafter referred as: ‘the CVO’) instigated an investigation. However, no further details were found in the documents consulted about how this CVO investigation developed. During its investigation, the Committee found nothing to indicate that the Stodel family received compensation for the loss of the work in question.
The Committee has investigated whether this case was settled in the past. As far as could be ascertained, the surviving relatives of the Stodel-Krijns did not submit a declaration to the SNK after the war concerning the loss of the Eversen painting, nor has any evidence been found to suggest that the painting was ever the subject of post-war negotiations or a court ruling concerning restitution. The applicants’ request for restitution is, therefore, admissible.
On the basis of current restitution policy, the conditions for restitution have been met if the original owner involuntarily lost possession of the claimed object due to circumstances directly related to the Nazi regime. In accordance with the Ekkart Committee’s eighth recommendation from 2001, the title to art objects has to be proved with a high degree of probability. For individuals who belong to a persecuted group, the sale of an object in the Netherlands between 10 May 1940 and 5 May 1945 is also considered to be involuntary unless expressly proven otherwise.
The Committee has considered the following with regard to the identification of the currently claimed work NK 1762 as the former property of Stodel. Although it is unknown when and how Stodel acquired this painting, it has been shown that he owned this painting at the outset of the war. The Committee refers in this regard to the valuation list in consideration 4 concerning Stodel’s household effects on which the painting is listed, and to the declaration form from Van Marle & Bignell also mentioned in consideration 4. In addition, the Committee refers to the letter from Van Marle & Bignell dated 13 June 1951, as referred to consideration 5, in which the auction house informs Bureau Hergo that the auctioned work of art ‘[in opdracht van] Dr. M. Franssen is verkocht onder Boedel Stodel’ [was sold on the instructions of Dr Franssen as part of the Stodel estate].
With regard to the nature of the loss of possession, the Committee has considered the following. As described in considerations 3, 4 and 5, during the war, the painting in question was sold at the behest of the occupying authorities by an appointed Verwalter and contrary to the wishes of the owner. The Committee deems such loss of possession involuntary due to circumstances directly related to the Nazi regime.
The Committee has concluded that the conditions for restitution have been met. It does not, therefore, see any reason to advise that the sum transferred into Franssen’s bank account at the time be repaid. In accordance with the Ekkart Committee’s fourth recommendation of 26 April 2001, repayment of the purchase price can only be considered if the seller obtained free disposal of the proceeds, while in accordance with the fifth recommendation, the rightful claimants must be afforded the benefit of the doubt if there is any uncertainty on this issue. The Committee considers that the purchase price was transferred into the bank account of the Nazi-appointed Verwalter and was not, therefore, made freely available to Stodel’s heirs.
The Restitutions Committee advises the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science to return the painting View in a Dutch Town by A. Eversen (NK 1762) to Joseph Stodel’s heirs.
Adopted at the meeting of 7 June 2010 by W.J.M. Davids (chair), J.Th.M. Bank, P.J.N. van Os, D.H.M. Peeperkorn, E.J. van Straaten, H.M. Verrijn Stuart, I.C. van der Vlies (vice-chair), and signed by the chair and the secretary.
(W.J.M. Davids, chair) (E. Campfens, secretary)
 On 24 February 2010, the State Secretary for OCW took over the restitution file from the Minister.