Goudstikker - Kummerlé collection

 NK 3749 – Philips Wouwerman, Two Men with a Horse on the Beach

Recommendation regarding Goudstikker-Kummerlé

Recommendation number: 
RC 1.134
Type: 
NK collection
Publishing date: 
2 September 2013
Period loss of possession: 
1940-1945
Private owner/art dealer: 
Art dealership
Location of loss: 
The Netherlands

 In a letter dated 21 June 2012, the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science (hereinafter referred to as OCW) asked the Restitutions Committee for advice about the application of 30 May 2012 from Marei von Saher-Langenbein of New York, United States, (hereinafter also referred to as the applicant) for the restitution of the following three paintings from the Netherlands Art Property Collection (hereinafter referred to as the NK collection):

-          NK 3749 – Philips Wouwerman, Two Men with a Horse on the Beach;
-          NK 3750 – Dominicus van Tol, Boy with a Dog;
-          NK 3751 – Hendrik Gerritsz. Pot, A Man with a Glass of Wine.

These works of art were returned from Germany to the Netherlands on 4 March 2012, after which they became part of the NK collection.

The procedure

The Committee investigated the facts as a result of the request for advice. This included making use of the information and results of the investigation in the Goudstikker case (RC 1.15), in which the State Secretary for OCW decided on 6 February 2006 to restitute 202 works of art.

The results of the investigation are recorded in a draft investigation report dated 3 June 2013. The draft report, together with a letter dated 13 June 2013, was sent for comment to the applicant and, together with a letter of the same date, to the Minister of OCW for additional information. Both the applicant and the Minister let it be known in writing that they had no comments on the draft report. The draft report was subsequently adopted on 2 September 2013. The Committee refers to the report concerned for the facts in this case.

The applicant appointed the lawyer Lawrence M. Kaye of New York, United States, to represent her during the procedure before the Committee.

Considerations:

  1. The applicant is the widow of Eduard von Saher, the only son of the Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker (1897-1940). When the Second World War started, the latter was the major shareholder and managing director of the Amsterdam gallery J. Goudstikker NV (hereinafter referred to as the Goudstikker gallery). After the war the name of the gallery concerned was changed to the Amsterdamse Negotiatie Compagnie NV (hereinafter referred to as the ANC). The initial liquidation of the ANC, which was dissolved as of 14 December 1955, was terminated on 28 February 1960 and then reopened on 31 March 1998 by order of the district court in Amsterdam. The liquidation of the ANC was completed on 3 July 2007. The applicant stated that she was the only registered shareholder in the company at that moment. On the grounds of documents that have come to the attention of the Committee in this regard, the Committee concludes that the applicant is entitled to any subsequent assets of the ANC.

  2. The applicant requests the restitution of three paintings that were returned to the Netherlands from Germany on 4 March 2012 and since then have been part of the NK Collection in the custody of the Dutch government under inventory numbers NK 3749, NK 3750 and NK 3751. The applicant stated that the paintings concerned ‘were looted from Jacques Goudstikker’s collection by Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring through an involuntary sale in 1940’. She also stated that ‘the Paintings were recently returned to the Netherlands from Germany and, thus, not included in my prior applications to the Restitutions Committee. All three were part of a group of paintings delivered to Göring and, pursuant to the State Secretary’s February 6, 2006 decision (...), should be restituted to me.

  3. The Committee refers to the investigation report for a description of the fate of the Goudstikker gallery during and after the Second World War. The following summary is sufficient here. Jacques Goudstikker, together with his family, fled the Netherlands by ship on 14 May 1940. During this journey he died in an accident. His wife Désirée and son Eduard reached the United States. The gallery in Amsterdam was left behind unmanaged because at the beginning of May 1940 Jacques Goudstikker’s authorized representative also died suddenly. Two of Goudstikker’s staff, A.A. ten Broek and J. Dik Sr, took over the management of the gallery, after which Ten Broek was appointed managing director of the company during an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders on 4 June 1940. Virtually immediately after the capitulation of the Netherlands, Alois Miedl, a German banker and businessman living in the Netherlands, joined the gallery and took over the actual management. Under an agreement dated 1 July 1940, Miedl purchased all the assets of the Goudstikker gallery, including the firm’s trading name. Shortly afterwards this agreement was amended in connection with the simultaneous interest of Field Marshal Hermann Göring in the gallery. Then, on 13 July 1940, two purchase agreements were entered into between the Goudstikker gallery, represented by Ten Broek, and Miedl and Göring:

    -        for a sum of NLG 550,000 Miedl acquired co-ownership of the Goudstikker gallery in so-called meta-paintings, the right to the trading name J. Goudstikker, and the gallery’s immovable property;
    -        for a sum NLG 2,000,000 Göring acquired the rights to all the works of art in so far as they were the property of the Goudstikker gallery on 26 June 1940 and were in the Netherlands. Göring acquired a preferential right with regard to the meta-paintings.

    Désirée Goudstikker, the heir of Jacques Goudstikker, who represented 334 of the 600 shares, some on behalf of her underage son, refused to give Ten Broek the permission he requested for the sales. The gallery’s staff received commission of NLG 400,000 from Miedl for bringing about the sales. Furthermore, upon entering into the agreement an undertaking would be made that Mrs Goudstikker-Sellisberger, Jacques Goudstikker’s mother, who had remained behind in Amsterdam, could count on protection from Miedl or Göring. On 14 September 1940 Alois Miedl founded the company Kunsthandel voorheen J. Goudstikker NV and on 2 October 1940 it was decided to dissolve the original gallery, as a result of which it went into liquidation. This liquidation of the Goudstikker gallery was cancelled retroactively on 26 February 1947. Of the purchase price of NLG 2,550,000 that was entailed in the sales to Miedl and Göring, a sum of NLG 1,363,752.33 remained for the Goudstikker gallery after the war.

  4. The Committee acquired insight into the execution of the agreements referred to above between the Goudstikker gallery and Miedl and Göring thanks to a report with inventories, found during the investigation, that was compiled on Miedl’s instructions by the accountant J. Elte (hereinafter referred to as the Elte report). It emerges from the Elte report that Göring was not interested in all the works of art that he had bought in accordance with the purchase agreement of 13 July 1940. Göring left many objects behind in Amsterdam, which were therefore actually delivered to Miedl.
    The Committee observes that only a few hundred paintings out of the inventoried 1,113 works of art in the trading stock of the Goudstikker gallery were actually delivered to Göring (hereinafter referred to as the Göring transaction). What is more, after the initial delivery Göring and Miedl exchanged paintings that originally came from the Goudstikker gallery’s trading stock with each other.

  5. It emerges from the Committee’s investigation that the three paintings now being claimed were part of the Göring transaction—the batch of works of art that were sold and delivered to Göring in 1940. Afterwards Miedl bought the three present paintings from Göring. During the 1940-1942 period Miedl sold and auctioned the three works, as a result of which they ended up in the possession of the German art collector Kummerlé. At some point thereafter the paintings became part of the Museum der Bildenden Künste collection in Leipzig. After claims to the works by the State of the Netherlands, they were subsequently handed over to the State of the Netherlands by Germany on 4 March 2012.

  6. During the 2004-2006 period, the paintings from the Goudstikker gallery’s trading stock that were part of the Göring transaction in 1940 and that were returned in the years immediately after the war were part of an earlier application for restitution with regard to Goudstikker (RC 1.15). In that case the State Secretary for OCW decided on 6 February 2006 to grant the application for the restitution of the works in the Göring transaction. In a letter to the Lower House of the same date, the State Secretary explained the reasons behind her decision. The State Secretary stated that she deemed grounds to be present ‘in this special case’ to decide to restitute. ‘The most important consideration concerns the facts and circumstances surrounding the involuntary loss of possession and the handling of this case in the early nineteen-fifties, as brought up by the Committee in its extensive investigation.’

  7. The Committee concludes that the works NK 3749, NK 3750 and NK 3751 that are now being claimed were part of the same Göring transaction in 1940, but they had not yet become part of the NK collection during the 2004-2006 period, as a result of which they could not be included in the earlier application for restitution with regard to Goudstikker (RC 1.15) and therefore were not restituted at the time. Since the three claimed works of art became part of the NK collection on 4 March 2012 and were claimed by the applicant thereafter, the Committee advises the Minister to restitute them. In this regard the Committee refers to the decision of the State Secretary for OCW of 6 February 2006 quoted under consideration 6.

Conclusion

With reference to the decision of the State Secretary for OCW of 6 February 2006, the Restitutions Committee advises the Minister to grant the application for restitution of the paintings NK 3749, NK 3750 and NK 3751.

Adopted at the meeting of 2 September 2013 by W.J.M. Davids (chair), J.T.M. Bank, R. Herrmann, P.J.N. van Os, E.J. van Straaten, I.C. van der Vlies (vice-chair), and signed by the chairman and the director.

(W.J.M. Davids, chairman)                                       (E. Campfens, director)