You want to have an artwork, for example a painting that you saw hanging in a museum or that is in a private collection, restituted to you. If you want to have your restitution application investigated and assessed by the Restitutions Committee, you can request a binding opinion. Below there is a description of the steps that have to be taken when submitting such a request. There is also a short checklist on the right-hand side of the page.
The binding opinion procedure is voluntary. This means that the owner of the artwork you are claiming must decide together with you to involve the Restitutions Committee. An artwork in a museum collection does not necessarily have to belong to the museum. It can, for instance, be a loan from a foundation, a local authority or a province. Contact the museum in order to find out who you would have to agree with about involving the Restitutions Committee. The museum will give you this information. It is often the case in practice that the museum is authorized by the artwork’s owner, a local authority for instance, to participate in the procedure on their behalf.
If it emerges that an artwork is from the Dutch National Art Collection, you must contact the RCE.
You and the current owner must state beforehand that you accept the opinion to be issued by the Restitutions Committee as binding and the regulations. It is therefore important to reach agreement about this with the owner or the owner’s authorized representative (for example the museum).
Together with the other party, ask the Restitutions Committee for an investigation and a binding opinion. To that end send the Restitutions Committee a letter signed by the owner of the claimed artwork (or the owner’s authorized representative) and by you as representative of the party claiming the artwork. Both parties can also submit separate requests by means of two separate letters.
The letter or letters must clearly state the following :
- which artwork is concerned;
- where the artwork is (which museum/which collection);
- who the parties are (on the one hand the current owner, for example a foundation or a provincial/local authority, and on the other the party claiming the work of art on the grounds of former ownership);
- who the representatives of the two parties are and their contact details (for example a museum director could be the authorized representative of the current owner, and a representative of the family could represent the former owner).
The Restitutions Committee will verify whether it can deal with the request for a binding opinion. It is a requirement that all those entitled to the assets of the former owner of the claimed artwork are represented in the procedure (article 4, paragraph d of the regulations). You must prove who these entitled people and/or institutions are by means of a notarial certificate of inheritance or an equivalent document issued by a judicial authority. Such documentation should therefore be obtained as soon as possible.
As an applicant you must prove that you are acting on behalf of all those entitled to the assets of the former owner of the artwork you are claiming. Obtain powers of attorney from all these people and/or institutions at the earliest possible stage.