Recommendation regarding Rosenbaum
In a letter dated 21 May 2007, 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 decision concerning the application of G.S. of N.Y.C. and J.L. of L.A. (hereafter jointly referred to as: ‘applicants’) dated 28 March 2007 for the restitution of, among other things, the painting Landscape with classical temple by the artist Hubert Robert. This work is part of the Netherlands Art Property Collection (NK collection) and is administered by the Dutch government under inventory number NK 1432. It is currently on loan to the Dutch Embassy in Budapest, Hungary.
The claim to NK 1432 is part of a larger claim to art objects in the NK Collection made by the applicants. Following the request for advice on 21 May 2007, the Committee conducted a fact-finding investigation, the results of which were recorded in a draft investigatory report of 1 October 2009. The draft investigatory report (RC 1.82) was sent to the applicants for comment and also to the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science (hereafter referred to as: ‘State Secretary’) with a request for additional information. The applicants commented on the content of the draft investigatory report, and the State Secretary informed the Committee that she had no further information to add. The Committee subsequently decided to subsume the investigation into NK 1432 under a separate file (RC 1.82-A) in light of the fact that this object is also part of an application for restitution by Mathiason (RC 1.108). The Committee will issue a recommendation regarding the other objects claimed in RC 1.82 at a later date (RC 1.82-B). The investigatory report on which this partial recommendation RC 1.82-A is based has consequently been separated from the original draft investigatory report on RC 1.82. The applicants were informed of this in a letter dated 13 December 2010, which also contained the RC 1.82-A report. In their response, the applicants informed the Committee that additional investigations had not yielded any new information on the current NK 1432. The Committee adopted the investigatory report on RC 1.82-A on 31 January 2011, and refers to this report for the facts of the case. The applicants were represented in this procedure by M. Stötzel, lawyer, of Marburg, Germany.
The applicants stated that they are heirs of ‘the late Isaak and Jacob Rosenbaum and descendants, especially of Saemy Rosenberg and Hans and Eric Stiebel’. It emerges from the investigation that applicant J.L. is a grandson of Saemy Rosenberg and applicant G.S. is Eric Stiebel’s son. Saemy Rosenberg and Eric Stiebel were among the shareholders of art dealership I. Rosenbaum N.V. of Amsterdam (hereafter referred to as: ‘art dealership Rosenbaum’). This claim is based on the applicants’ initial proposition that the current NK 1432 was part of art dealership Rosenbaum’s trading stock, the possession of which was lost involuntarily during the occupation as a result of the Nazi regime. With reference to the Committee’s investigation of the facts, the applicants later revised their argument (see 5).
Pursuant to current national policy in respect of the restitution of works of art, they are only eligible for restitution if there is a convincing case regarding the right of ownership and there are no indications to the contrary.
On the basis of its investigation, the Committee concludes that in all probability, art dealership Rosenbaum did not own the currently claimed work of art. It can be concluded from archive documents that after the war, the current NK 1432 was inadvertently linked to the Rosenbaum art dealership. After the war, the Netherlands Art Property Foundation (SNK) noted the name ‘Rosenbaum’ on an internal declaration form for the painting, but this annotation was crossed out and replaced with ‘niet v. Rosenbaum’ [not from Rosenbaum]. Originally, ‘Rosenbaum, Amsterdam’ was noted on the inventory card belonging to the form but this was later corrected and the remark ‘volgens S. Rosenberg niet van de firma’ (According to S. Rosenberg not from the company) added. Evidently, the SNK contacted Saemy Rosenberg at the time, who then declared that the current NK 1432 had not belonged to the art dealership Rosenbaum.
Furthermore, the Committee has found evidence that at the time of loss of possession during the war, the current NK 1432 was the property of the Jewish family Mathiason, who originally came from Germany. The work was in all likelihood part of the family Mathiason’s relocation property, which had been confiscated in the Netherlands during the war. This information provides proof that contradicts the ownership by art dealership Rosenbaum, within the meaning of the Ekkart Committee’s eighth recommendation of April 2001. The Committee refers to its recommendation regarding Mathiason of 31 January 2011 (RC 1.108) for its assessment of the provenance as being Mathiason.
Finally, the Committee takes into consideration that, after reading the draft investigatory report, the applicants themselves indicated that it seems unlikely that the art dealership Rosenbaum owned the current NK 1432. In a letter dated 11 January 2011, the applicants declared: ‘it seems that this – former ownership of I. Rosenbaum N.V. concerning NK 1432 – is not very likely.’
The Restitutions Committee advises the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science to reject the application for the restitution of the painting Landscape with classical temple (NK 1432).
Adopted at the meeting of 31 January 2011 by W.J.M. Davids (chairman), 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, chairman) (E. Campfens, secretary)
 The request for advice regarding RC 1.82 concerns various other NK works, which will be dealt with in the future recommendation RC 1.82-B.
 Since the autumn of 2010, the State Secretary is the designated member of the government for restitution claims.