De Haan (II)

NK1416: Triptych by P. Coecke van Aelst (photo: RCE)

Recommendation regarding De Haan (II)

Recommendation number: 
RC 1.150
Type: 
NK collection
Publishing date: 
8 November 2016
Period loss of possession: 
1940-1945
Private owner/art dealer: 
Art dealership
Location of loss: 
The Netherlands

In a letter dated 7 July 2014 the Minister of Education, Culture and Science (hereinafter referred to as the Minister) asked the Restitutions Committee (hereinafter referred to as the Committee) for advice about the application of 29 May 2014 from AA (hereinafter referred to as the Applicant) for the restitution of seven paintings that are in the Netherlands Art Property Collection (hereinafter referred to as the NK collection). According to the Applicant her uncle, Simon de Haan, sold these paintings involuntarily during the Second World War under pressure resulting from circumstances directly connected with the Nazi regime. The application concerns the following works.

NK 1416 – P. Coecke van Aelst, Triptych: Adoration of the Magi (centre); The Virgin Adoring the Christ Child (left); Presentation of Christ in the Temple (right)
NK 1509 – follower of B. Fabritius, Bearded Man
NK 1536 – anonymous, Roman Capriccio
NK 1862 – J.F. van Douven, Hunters Resting at the Edge of a Wood
NK 1910 – H. Goltzius, Diana and Her Nymphs Discover Calisto’s Pregnancy
NK 2583 – J.J. van Goyen, Ice Scene with Skaters Near a Village
NK 2772 – F. van Mieris I, The Violinist

Assessment framework

Pursuant to article 2, paragraph 1, of the Decree Establishing the Advisory Committee on the Assessment of Restitution Applications for Items of Cultural Value and the Second World War, as amended, there is a Committee that is tasked with advising the Minister at the Minister’s request about decisions to be taken regarding applications for the restitution of items of cultural value whose original owner involuntarily lost possession due to circumstances directly related to the Nazi regime and which are:
a. part of the NK collection or
b. among the other holdings of the Dutch State.
Pursuant to paragraph 4, the Committee advises about applications as referred to in paragraph 1, under a, submitted to the Minister before 30 June 2015 with due regard for government policy in this respect.

The procedure and earlier recommendations

The restitution application was prompted by a visit the Applicant made to the exhibition Looted, But From Whom? in 2007. This was followed by contact between the Applicant and the Origins Unknown Agency (hereinafter referred to as the BHG). Thereafter in the first instance in 2007, 2009 and 2010 the Applicant requested the then State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science (OCW) to restitute twenty-three NK works, including those currently being claimed. The State Secretary asked the Committee to issue advice about this request. This concerned case RC 1.106. While that advice procedure was pending, the Applicant withdrew her claim to the seven NK works currently being claimed and two other NK works. The final advice in case RC 1.106 of 13 October 2011, which was to reject the Applicant’s claim, therefore concerned fourteen NK works. The State Secretary rejected the restitution application in a decision dated 3 November 2011.

The Applicant asked the Minister to revise this decision. In response to this request, on 27 January 2014 the Minister asked the Committee to issue revised advice. This procedure was registered at the Committee as RC 4.142. On 18 May 2015 the Committee advised the Minister to let the decision of 3 November 2011 to stand.

In a letter of 29 May 2014 the Applicant requested the Minister to restitute the seven aforementioned NK works. The Minister laid this claim before the Committee for advice. The Committee conducted an investigation into the facts. The results of the investigation are recorded in a draft investigation report dated 14 December 2015. The Applicant responded to it in a letter dated 31 March 2016. The Committee conducted additional research as a result of this response. The results of this investigation are recorded in a draft report dated 8 June 2016. This report was sent to the Applicant for response. The Applicant responded in a letter dated 3 July 2016.

There was a hearing on 5 September 2016. It was attended on behalf of the Applicant by her hushand BB and her daughter CC. Minutes of this hearing were sent to the Applicant. The Committee conducted a supplementary investigation as a result of this hearing. The results of this investigation are recorded in a draft report dated 10 October 2016. It was sent to the Applicant for response. The Applicant responded to it in a letter dated 25 October 2016.

The Committee adopted the investigation report on 8 November 2016.

The Applicant asserted in writing and at length during the hearing that she objected to the Committee’s procedure because the draft investigation report does not give any weighting to the facts it contains. The Committee considers this objection to be unfounded. The Committee’s procedure involves an investigation of the relevant facts first, followed by the preparation of a draft report. There is no weighing up of the facts at this stage because it would not be correct if the Committee were to interpret the facts before the Applicant has been given the opportunity to respond to this determination of the facts. There would moreover be no clear distinction between establishing the facts and preparing the advice. The Applicant was informed about this in a letter dated 6 July 2016.

Considerations

1. The Applicant is the only heir of her uncle Simon de Haan (hereinafter also referred to as De Haan), as can be seen from a certificate of inheritance, executed on 1 September 2010 before M.R. Meijer, notary in Amsterdam.

2. The relevant facts are described in the investigation report dated 8 November 2016. The following summary is sufficient here. Simon de Haan (hereinafter referred to as De Haan) was born on 6 June 1901 in Amsterdam to Salomon de Haan and Abigaël Buitenkant. Simon de Haan was of Jewish descent. A family registration card in The Hague Municipal Archives states that De Haan called himself ‘Henri Simon De Haan’. He was also known as ‘Hans de Haan’. On 5 April 1933 De Haan married Elsbeth Dorothea Hilda Haufschild. According to the certificate of inheritance referred to in 1, this marriage was probably subsequently dissolved through the granting of a divorce. Investigation reveals that from 1929 De Haan lived variously in The Hague and Amsterdam. De Haan’s last registered address was 22 Surinamestraat in The Hague. This was also the residential address of Eduard Hollander (hereinafter referred to as Hollander). He is known, among other things, to have acted as lawyer for De Haan.

3. De Haan worked in the art trade. It emerges from the files of the Commercial Register of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of The Hague that from 1929 De Haan with Hendrik Maas Szn. was director of N.V. Internationale Kunsthandel (hereinafter referred to as Galerie Internationale) in The Hague. This art trading business had a branch in Amsterdam. De Haan stopped working for this company after a few years. This can be seen from a declaration by Maas dated 17 September 1934 in the Amsterdam Commercial Register in which reference is made to the dismissal of De Haan and the closure of the Amsterdam branch of Galerie Internationale.

4. During its investigation the Committee found information showing that De Haan remained active in the art trade. After the war, for example, the Tilburg art collector H.F.J. Weijers stated that De Haan acted for him as an intermediary for the purchase of almost his entire collection. The Hoogendijk archive at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD) is another source. It contains an overview prepared by accountants of settlements/transactions between February 1939 and December 1940 headed  ‘H.S. de Haan, ’s Gravenhage, in rekening courant met D.A. Hoogendijk & Co’[H.S. de Haan, The Hague, current account with D.A. Hoogendijk & Co]. This overview includes paintings in regard to which in many cases there are notes about the purchase and sale of the works concerned and the commissions paid. None of the artworks referred to corresponds with any of the currently claimed paintings.
A list entitled ‘Aankopen Simon de Haan op de veilingen van Mak van Waay 1934-1940’ [Purchases by Simon de Haan in sales at Mak van Waay 1934-1940] submitted by the Applicant in case RC 4.142 shows that during this period De Haan was referred to as buyer in twelve sales organized by this auction house. De Haan also bought and sold through the Van Marle & Bignell auction house in The Hague. None of the purchases concern a painting currently being claimed.

5. Documentation that has been unearthed furthermore reveals that before the war De Haan was a buyer for the Amsterdam gallery J. Goudstikker N.V., which was run by the Jewish Jacques Goudstikker. De Haan continued these activities as an art buyer/intermediary after the German invasion of the Netherlands, even after the gallery was taken over by the German Alois Miedl, which traded under the name Voorheen J. Goudstikker N.V. (hereinafter referred to as Goudstikker-Miedl) with Hermann Göring among others. This emerges from statements and other documentation that the Committee found during its investigation and that are referred to in the investigation report. The Committee took note, for instance, of reports prepared during the occupation by the accountant Elte about Goudstikker-Miedl. In a report dated 13 September 1940 (hereinafter referred to as the Elte report) there are several references to payments or settlements concerning De Haan. Among other things they are about commissions owing. Various paintings are recorded in the Goudstikker-Miedl stockbook with a reference to the name ‘de Haan’ in the ‘Inkoopen’ [Purchases] column. The investigation report also refers to other documentation from the business records of Goudstikker-Miedl in which the name of De Haan was found.

6. All seven works that are currently being claimed were part of a transaction agreed on 2 August 1940 between Miedl and the brothers Benjamin and Nathan Katz of the Katz gallery in Dieren (hereinafter also referred to as Katz). The transaction involved Goudstikker-Miedl buying over 500 paintings from Katz for NLG 1,822,500. This transaction was well documented and can be found in the surviving business records of Goudstikker-Miedl and elsewhere. All the currently claimed works, for example, are on the lists in the Elte report of the works that Goudstikker-Miedl supposedly bought ‘FROM THE FIRM OF KATZ DATED 2 AUGUST 1940’. This transaction can also be found in the Goudstikker-Miedl stockbook and in the accounting book, which was used to record the incoming and outgoing items.
Both Miedl and Benjamin Katz stated after the war that De Haan was involved in this transaction. Miedl stated that De Haan acted as an intermediary on his behalf. Katz stated that a referral commission was paid to De Haan. Others also made statements about this transaction and De Haan’s role. Victor Modrzejewski, for instance, an art dealer of German origin, stated after the war that: ‘Hans de Haan, een joodse kunstkenner, die reeds voor den oorlog inkoper bij de N.V. Goudstikker was, was mijn vriend. Het is mij bekend dat deze De Haan voor de later als eigenaar optredende A. Miedl verschillende schilderijen inkocht o.a. bij de gebroeders Katz te Dieren’ [Hans de Haan, a Jewish art expert who was a buyer with N.V. Goudstikker before the war, was my friend. I know that this De Haan purchased various paintings while acting for A. Miedl, who was later to act as owner, from the Katz brothers in Dieren and others].

7. De Haan was arrested around the time of or shortly after this transaction. The aforementioned Modrzejewski stated the following about this: ‘De Haan werd in Augustus 1940, het kan 2 Augustus 1940 geweest zijn, gearresteerd door de Duitse politie. Met behulp van de Duitser A. Miedl heb ik getracht Hans de Haan vrij te krijgen (…)’ [De Haan was arrested by the German police in August 1940, it might have been 2 August 1940. I tried with help from the German A. Miedl to get Hans de Haan out of custody…].
De Haan was sentenced to two years imprisonment He was in Scheveningen prison from 6 December 1940 to 17 February 1941. He was then transferred to a prison in Wuppertal. There is a note on a card from the registration system of this prison that De Haan was convicted for ‘Beschimpfung der d. Wehrmacht und Verbr. unwahrer Behauptungen u.s.w.’. After his imprisonment formally ended on 10 January 1943, De Haan was transferred to Westerbork on 12 February 1943, and from there he was deported on 16 February 1943 to Auschwitz, where he was murdered on 19 February 1943.

8. As early as 26 September 1942 an article appeared in the English edition of the newspaper Vrij Nederland which reported that De Haan had been arrested following a complaint by Miedl. This article, entitled ‘Goering and Funk in a Dispute / About Stolen Dutch Old Masters’, which was allegedly based on information from ‘EEN NEDERLANDER, uit het bezette gebied ontsnapt’ [A DUTCHMAN who has escaped from German occupied territory], states the following about De Haan: ‘In Den Haag woont prof. Friedlaender, een oude, grijze Duitsche schilderijen-expert. Miedel nam hem geheel in dienst en Friedlaender werd verplicht heele reeksen certificaten voor schilderijen af te geven. Zoo verscheen er een Friedlaender-certificaat voor een Jan Steen, die zoo valsch was als een looden gulden. Een der agenten van Miedel, zekere De Haan, protesteerde tegen deze handeling. Hij verweet Miedel zijn geknoei. Kort daarop verdween hij van het tooneel. Hij had den “Fuehrer beleedigd” en was op aanklacht van zijn werkgever gearresteerd’ [Professor Friedlaender, an old, grey German art expert, lives in The Hague. Miedel gave him a full-time job and Friedlaender was obliged to issue whole series of certificates for paintings. For example a Friedlaender certificate was issued for a Jan Steen that was as fake as a lead guilder. One of Miedel’s agents, a certain De Haan, protested at this practice. He reproached Miedel for his tampering. He disappeared shortly afterwards. He had “insulted the Fuhrer” and was arrested following a complaint by his employer].
Articles with essentially identical wording appeared on 25 November 1942 in the Dutch language weekly Onze Toekomst, which was published in the United States, and on 30 March 1943 in the American monthly Click. The National Picture Monthly.
The Committee refers to consideration 12 of its advice regarding RC 1.106.

Assessment of the claim

9. The Applicant has asserted that De Haan was the owner of the currently claimed paintings and that he sold them to Miedl under duress. As support for this she refers to the information about the works on the BHG website, where the name De Haan is mentioned in the different provenances. She refers, with specific regard to NK 1416, to information from the German Historical Museum’s Die Kunstsammlung Herman Göring database. Regarding NK 1416 and NK 2583 she refers to the publication Beyond the Dreams of Avarice: The Hermann Goering Collection (2009) by Nancy H. Yeide.

10.  The Committee cannot concur with the Applicant’s assertion. As stated in consideration 6, all the paintings currently being claimed were part of the transaction between Katz and Goudstikker/Miedl of 2 Augustus 1940. It does not emerge from the currently known facts that De Haan owned the currently claimed works at any moment prior to this transaction. This is also not considered to be plausible. De Haan’s role in this transaction was described by those directly involved as well as others as that of an intermediary. This is consistent with what else is known about De Haan’s activities as described in considerations 3, 4 and 5, and with the comment by BB during the hearing that the activities of H.S. de Haan would be described these days as those of a consultant.
References to De Haan’s name in all seven provenances on the BHG website also point to De Haan’s intermediary role in the transaction between Katz and Goudstikker-Miedl. In each case BHG places the works on the date concerned, around the beginning of Augustus 1940, with the Katz gallery, De Haan and Goudstikker-Miedl.
As regards the references in the database Die Kunstsammlung Herman Göring and in Yeide’s publication, the Committee finds that these references are based on the entries on the BHG website. No independent arguments in support of the Applicant’s vision can be derived from them.

11.  The Applicant repeatedly asked the Committee to devote more attention to the relationship between De Haan and Hollander, who was referred to in consideration 2 of RC 4.142. According to the Applicant it is possible that Hollander, who is known to have sold three paintings to Miedl, held paintings for De Haan in safekeeping.
In response to this the Committee first of all refers to its recommendation RC 1.97 of 12 October 2009, which concerned this same Hollander. Hollander is therefore not unknown to the Committee. The Applicant furthermore also referred to the relationship between De Haan and Hollander in her request for revised advice (RC 4.142). Consideration 16 of the advice given in that case addresses this point.
The currently claimed works did not end up with Goudstikker/Miedl via Hollander but were all part of the transaction between Katz and Goudstikker/Miedl of 2 Augustus 1940. It is therefore not just implausible that Hollander supposedly held the currently claimed works in safekeeping for De Haan. It also conflicts with what is known about the provenance of these works. Consequently the Committee has not considered it necessary in this case to devote more attention to the relationship between De Haan and Hollander than it already has.

12.  On the grounds of the applicable restitution policy, it is possible to recommend restitution if ownership is very plausible and there are no indications to the contrary. In view of the above, the Committee takes the view that it is not very plausible that De Haan owned the currently claimed works at any moment.
The Committee will therefore advise the Minister to reject the Applicant’s claim.

Conclusion

The Restitutions Committee advises the Minister of Education, Culture and Science to reject the Applicant’s claim.

Adopted on 8 November 2016 by W.J.M. Davids (Chairman), J.T.M. Bank, R. Herrmann, P.J.N. van Os, E.J. van Straaten, H.M. Verrijn Stuart and I.C. van der Vlies (Vice-Chair) and signed by the Chairman and the Secretary.

(W.J.M. Davids, Chairman)                          (R.A.M. Nachbahr, Secretary)