Recommendation regarding Arnhold (A)
In letters dated 28 February 2007 and 9 June 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 two applications for restitution made by ‘die Erbengemeinschaft nach Adolf Arnhold’ [the community of heirs of Adolf Arnhold] regarding four works of art in the Netherlands Art Property collection (hereafter referred to as: NK collection). This partial recommendation involves three paintings, to wit P. de Neyn, Farmhouse near a waterway (NK 1747), A. van Ostade, A scholar (NK 1532) and D. Teniers II, Resting herdsman with cattle near a tavern (NK 1750). NK 1532 is currently in the depot of the Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE); the current location of NK 1747 is unknown; NK 1750 is on long-term loan to the Limburg Museum in Venlo.
In letters dated 4 December 2006 and 7 December 2007 the ‘Erbgemeinschaft nach Adolf Arnhold ‘ (hereafter referred to as: the applicants) requested the return of four paintings that were said to have been the property of Adolf Arnhold. After the war, the works in question became part of the so-called NK collection administered by the Dutch state. The applicants were represented in this procedure by Dr S. Rudolph, lawyer in Dresden, Germany.
The current partial advice (RC 1.61.A) concerns three paintings: P. de Neyn, Farmhouse near a waterway (NK 1747), A. van Ostade, A scholar (NK 1532) and D. Teniers II, Resting herdsman with cattle near a tavern (NK 1750). An unusual situation has arisen in that in 2009, NK 1747 was stolen from the Stadsmuseum in IJsselstein, where it had been on loan from the Dutch state. In light of the following, it is not necessary to discuss this loss at any length.
Following the above requests for advice, the Committee instigated a fact-finding investigation. The preliminary results of this fact-finding investigation in the context of the original claim (NK 1747, NK 2924) were recorded in a draft report dated 7 January 2008. The Committee sent this draft report to the Minister and to the applicants, to which the Minister replied in an email dated 7 February 2008 and the applicants in a letter dated 20 March 2008. The preliminary results of the investigation of the supplementary claim (NK 1532, NK 1750) were combined with the previous investigation results and reactions in a draft report dated 6 December 2010. The report was sent to the applicants for comment. They responded to the contents of the report in a letter dated 29 April 2011. At their request, the Committee then gave the applicants the opportunity to conduct additional investigations into the provenance of the claimed works of art. In a letter dated 1 July 2011, the applicants were also informed about a number of additional investigation details established by the Committee. On 14 October 2011, the applicants reported to the Committee that no new information had emerged from the provenance investigation they had instigated.
Three of the four claimed paintings, including NK 2924, are also part of an application for restitution concerning art dealership Firma D. Katz of Dieren (RC 1.90-B). Partly in connection with this and because of the ongoing investigation, the Committee has decided to defer its recommendation regarding NK 2924 and to include the claim to this work in file number RC 1.61-B.
The facts underpinning the present recommendation, which concerns the three other works, are described in the separate investigatory report RC 1.61-A, which was adopted on 21 November 2011. The applicants’ response of 29 April 2011 is appended to this report.
Applicants request the restitution of A. van Ostade, A scholar (NK 1532), P. de Neyn, Farmhouse near a waterway (NK 1747) and D. Teniers II, Resting herdsman with cattle near a tavern (NK 1750). The applicants claim that the works were or may have been the property of Jewish-German banker Adolf Arnhold, who was a partner of the Gebr. Arnhold bank. Adolf Arnhold allegedly lost possession of the paintings as a consequence of anti-Jewish measures taken by the Nazi regime. According to the applicants, they form the ‘Erbgemeinschaft nach Adolf Arnhold’, specified in more detail during the procedure as ‘the Firm xxx i.Abw.’, i.e. the firm xxx in liquidation. Given the following, the Committee regards a detailed analysis of the legal relationship between the various legal entities/individuals) as being of no importance.
According to the applicants, the Arnhold family took steps to trace Adolf Arnhold’s former art property after the war. However, the applicants also stated that after the war, nothing was reported missing to the Netherlands Art Property Foundation (SNK). The Committee considers that to the extent to which there were contacts with the Dutch restitution authorities in the past, they certainly did not lead to a final decision regarding the currently claimed paintings. Hence this is not a case that was settled in the past, which means that the applicants’ request is therefore admissible.
Adolf Arnhold (1884-1950) (hereafter also referred to as: Arnhold) descended from a prominent Jewish-German bankers’ family and was a partner in the Gebr. Arnhold bank in Dresden and Berlin, Germany (hereafter referred to as: the Gebr. Arnhold bank). Both the bank and the Jewish partners were persecuted during the Nazi regime. According to the applicants, the paintings with the current inventory numbers NK 1532, NK 1747 and NK 1750 came into Adolf Arnhold’s possession in 1937. In 1937, Adolf Arnhold and his wife fled because of the Nazi regime, and settled abroad where they eventually found a safe haven. Adolf Arnhold died in Heidelberg in 1950.
Arnhold’s acquisition of ownership of the currently claimed works can be traced back to contractual agreements in 1931 (and later) between the Gebr. Arnhold bank and another ‘Jewish’ bank in Germany, S. Bleichröder of Berlin (hereafter referred to as: the S. Bleichröder bank) and their partners Arnhold (of the Gebr. Arnhold bank) and Dr Paul Hermann von Schwabach (of the S. Bleichröder bank) (hereafter referred to as: Von Schwabach). As part of these agreements, the total scope and content of which are not known, in 1937, Adolf Arnhold acquired ownership of the works that had previously been the property of Von Schwabach. As a quid pro quo, part of a debt was settled that Von Schwabach owed the Gebr. Arnhold bank, to which transaction the bank agreed. Given the conclusion set out below, a detailed discussion of the loss of possession by the originally Jewish Von Schwabach is not necessary.
Included in the transfer of ownership to Adolf Arnhold were works that Von Schwabach had placed with the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (hereafter referred to as: RMA), the Netherlands, in 1935. A list of these works dated 20 July 1934 is available. Arnhold also submitted a statement of his assets (which Jews were obliged to do) to the Nazi authorities on 29 July 1938. Various works are mentioned in an appendix to this statement, which includes the majority of the works found on the 1934 list. This appendix was also found during the investigation into the Arnhold case. In September 1938, the Von Schwabach couple separately informed the RMA about the transfer of ownership to the new owner , Adolf Arnhold. Von Schwabach died in November 1938. On 15 December 1938, an (authorised) representative of Arnhold asked for the works and fetched them the following day, taking them to an unknown destination. A confirmation of receipt dated 16 December 1938 and signed by Arnhold’s representative includes a list of the paintings found, which is almost identical to the list of 20 July 1934.
The reconstruction of the facts as given above implies that Adolf Arnhold acquired the title to the artworks from the (former) Von Schwabach collection, which were in the RMA, in 1937. The Committee then wanted to know whether the currently claimed artworks could be identified as having been part of this group. As a consequence of the Ekkart Committee’s eighth recommendation of April 2001 concerning private art property, a condition for restitution is first and foremost that the title to the claimed objects is proven with a high degree of probability, and that there are no indications to the contrary.
On the basis of the investigation, the Committee concludes that two of the artworks (NK 1532, NK 1747) do not correspond to works that Von Schwabach had placed with the RMA and of which Adolf Arnhold acquired ownership, and that NK 1750 cannot be identified as such with a high degree of probability.
The Committee elucidates the identification problems encountered for each work of art below.
The claimed work NK 1532 is very probably another painting than the A. van Ostade work that was in Arnhold’s possession to which the applicants refer and that is entered as number 13 on the 1938 list referred to in consideration 5, ‘Schildery van A.van Ostade’ [Painting by A. van Ostade]. Portret, van de heupen gezien’ [Portrait, seen from the hips]. Neither the name Arnhold nor the name Von Schwabach occurs in relation to NK 1532 in the provenance details from the Origins Unknown Agency, the project agency that investigated the provenance of the NK collection up until 2004. The applicants suggest that the above mention of the portrait with the number 13 refers to the current NK 1532. However, the descriptions on the lists referred to in consideration 5 are very sketchy. For instance, no dimensions or other distinctive features are given. No further indications of Arnhold’s ownership were found during the investigation. During an inspection of the reverse of the current NK 1532, no numbers or identifying marks were found that could link the work with that listed under number 13. The Committee also found no indications for a Von Schwabach or Arnhold provenance of NK 1532 in the SNK documentation.
What is more, indications were found that contradict the fact that NK 1532 is the work to which the applicants are referring. During its investigation, the Committee found indications that suggest that in 1939, ‘Dr Kurt Arnhold and A. Arnhold’ (in all probability Adolf Arnhold) donated a small portrait of a scholar by Adriaen van Ostade from the Von Schwabach collection to the RMA. This donated portrait is in all probability the current SK-A-3281, a different painting than NK 1532. Although a scholar is depicted both in SK-A-3281 and in NK 1532, there are significant differences in the background used and the way in which the person is portrayed. The painting with the number 13 from the property of Arnhold is described as ‘ Portrait, seen from the hips’. The scholar in SK-A-3281 is indeed depicted from the hips, whereas the scholar in NK 1532 is portrayed from the waist. Because of the provenance and the description, the Committee considers it probable that the work SK-A-3281 belonged to Kurt and Adolf Arnhold and was donated by them in 1939. In light of the above, the Committee is of the opinion that the current NK 1532 cannot be identified as the former property of Arnhold.
The name Arnhold does not occur in the provenance details of the Origins Unknown Agency for NK 1747. The applicants identify the painting as a work by artist Jan van Goyen that appeared on the list of paintings that Von Schwabach had placed with the RMA. Although the 1934 list referred to by the applicants (mentioned above in consideration 5) was investigated, the information given there is too sketchy and too indistinctive to enable identification. Further investigations by the Committee, particularly into numbers or identifying marks on the reverse of the work, did not make it possible to link NK 1747 to an entry on the 1934 list or the other lists mentioned in consideration 5.
In addition, there are indications showing that NK 1747, which was attributed to S. or J.S. van Ruysdael at the time, is a different work from the two paintings by Van Goyen on the list. On 30 October 2007, the applicants submitted copies of Internal Declaration Forms drafted by the SNK concerning two paintings by Jan van Goyen. On these forms, next to ‘provenance’ of the two works, is the note: ‘Schwabach; loan Rijksmuseum’ It can be concluded from the enclosed photos that this refers to two other paintings than the current NK 1747. The Committee considers it probable that the two entries on the list refer to these two works, which, as far as is known, are not or no longer in the NK collection. In light of the above, the Committee is of the opinion that the current NK 1747 cannot be identified as the former property of Arnhold.
As regards this painting, again no evidence of Arnhold as provenance was found. The names Arnhold or Von Schwabach do not occur in the Origins Unknown Agency’s provenance details for NK 1750. However, the applicants did state that they identify NK 1750 as (possibly) being number 11 on a list of paintings that Adolf Arnhold acquired from Von Schwabach’s collection. Although the description of the work on the list of 16 December 1938 mentioned in consideration 5 (a painting by David Teniers II, Sheep and cattle) could apply to NK 1750, without more details this description is not distinctive enough to identify the work with any degree of certainty as being the painting from Arnhold’s collection. All the more so because the depiction shown is one that occurs frequently in the work of David Teniers II. The Committee carried out further investigations, particularly into numbers or identifying marks on the reverse of the work, but found no further evidence to suggest a Von Schwabach or Arnhold provenance. As things stand, the Committee considers it possible but not highly probable that the current NK 1750 was the property of Arnhold.
Because of these identification problems, the Committee was unable to assess the nature of the loss of possession and will recommend in its conclusion that the application with regard to NK 1532, NK 1747 and NK 1750 be rejected.
NK 1747 and NK 1750 are also the subject of a claim in connection with the application for restitution concerning art dealership Firma D. Katz (RC 1.90-B). Given the above, the two applications do not have to be balanced against one another.
The Restitutions Committee advises the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science to reject the application for restitution of the paintings P. de Neyn, Farmhouse near a waterway (NK 1747), A. van Ostade, A scholar (NK 1532) and D. Teniers II, Resting herdsman with cattle near a tavern (NK 1750).
Adopted at the meeting of 21 November 2011 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-chairman) and signed by the chair and the secretary.
(W.J.M. Davids, chair) (E. Campfens, secretary)