a. The current NK collection
In spite of major research efforts during the past few years and the ensuing results – seen in the light of prior expectations - with regard to the reconstruction of the provenance of the works of art in the NK collection, it must be concluded that the identity of the original owners of many works of art cannot be ascertained. Often, the provenance of a work from the NK collection cannot be further traced than to an art dealer by whom it was voluntarily sold to the Germans between 1940 and 1945, which makes it impossible to determine from whom the dealer concerned acquired the work. On the basis of comparison to the provenances which can be fully documented, it seems probable that in many cases the trade was completely regular, whereby forced sale of property was out of the question. For a number of artworks however, the trail leads to a looting organisation, such as the LiRo Bank, but all clues as to from whose property they were taken are lacking. This means that there are artefacts in the collection of recuperated works of art under Dutch state custody which either definitely or highly probably belong to the category of works stolen or confiscated or of which the sale was forced upon their original Jewish owners and for which no legally entitled party can be indicated. This concerns a few dozen works, for the greater part objects of applied art and furthermore a number of primarily 19th-century paintings. Provenance research has not shown a single object for which clues exist suggesting that it originates from the property of a persecuted section of the population other than the Jewish community.
Owing to the points of departure for government policy, the committee considers it to be incorrect to tacitly ignore the provenance data on these objects and to continue to keep them in the state collection. The committee is of the opinion that sale of the objects in question and the forthcoming proceeds to be given to a Jewish charity is also an undesirable solution as it would render the objects unattainable to any legally entitled individual who may come forth in the future. Instead, the committee recommends two measures. Firstly, all artworks in this category to be exhibited in museums should be fitted with a plate stating their provenance. Secondly, the committee recommends that these objects be valued and that the counter value ascertained on the basis of this valuation be made available to a Jewish cultural charity. This removes any suspicion that the Dutch government could have enriched its public art collection with works of art that were taken from victims of the war without reciprocation.
The committee recommends that the works of art from the NK collection, which can definitely or to a high degree of certainty be categorised as stolen, confiscated or lost to their original Jewish owners through forced sale and for which no legally entitled parties can be indicated, should, during an exhibition be fitted with a plate which states their provenance. The committee also recommends that these objects be valued and that the counter value ascertained on the basis of this valuation be made available to a Jewish cultural charity.
b. The artworks auctioned at the start of the fifties
The same impression of enrichment exists with regard to the proceeds which ended up in the treasury after the auction – in the early 1950s – of recuperated works of art, which definitely also included material belonging to Jewish owners that had changed hands during the war years through theft, confiscation or forced sale. An accurate determination of the artworks involved can hardly be made anymore. Therefore the best solution is to assume that the composition of the works auctioned was comparable to that of the works which have been preserved and which are at present part of the NK collection. The extensive Mannheimer and Lanz collections which disfigure this general impression are to be ignored.
In connection herewith, the committee proposes to add a percentage of the total auction proceeds, minus those of the parts of the Mannheimer and Lanz collections that have been sold, to the abovementioned figure intended for a Jewish cultural charity. This percentage can be calculated by comparing the number of artworks with 'tainted provenances' against the number of artworks in the NK collection as laid down in the Origins Unknown (Herkomst Gezocht) interim reports, minus the number of artworks from the Mannheimer and Lanz collections. The sum of the number of the above under a) mentioned category of stolen works of art from unknown Jewish property on the one hand and the number of restitutions to legally entitled parties since May 1952 - the date of the transfer of the remaining material of the Netherlands Art Property Foundation (Stichting Nederlands Kunstbezit, abbreviated as SNK) to the Ministry of Art and Sciences (Ministerie van Kunsten en Wetenschappen) - on the other can serve as the basis for the term 'tainted provenance'. In order to prevent the so far unknown results of claims pending distorting the calculations, the number of artworks for which as yet unprocessed claims have been submitted as of the closing date of the research (1 December 2004), should be excluded from the calculations and neither be taken into account in the calculation of the size of the NK collection, nor in the inventory of works with tainted provenances.
The percentage of tainted NK artworks (minus the pending claims) with regard to the entire NK catalogue (minus the Lanz and Mannheimer collections, and claims pending) should be applied to the total of the auction proceeds (also minus the Lanz and Mannheimer collections) and then be indexed according to the standards of average price developments for artworks between 1952 and 2004. A carefully grounded calculation method will be submitted by the committee in December 2004.
The committee recommends making an indexed percentage of the proceeds of the recuperated works of art sold up until 1952 available to a Jewish cultural charity.
c. Intended recipients of monies
The committee is of the opinion that the monies to be made available in accordance with the above recommendations should be allocated to general Jewish cultural charities of which half to the support of the preservation of Jewish cultural heritage and the other half for the stimulation of contemporary Jewish cultural expressions. The support for the preservation of Jewish cultural heritage can best be realised by supporting the Cultural Heritage Foundation of the Portuguese-Israeli Community (Stichting Cultureel Erfgoed Portugees-Israëlietische Gemeente), whose objective is to maintain and manage the synagogue on the mr. Visserplein in Amsterdam and to make it accessible to the public. The unique historic importance of this synagogue makes it a symbol of Jewish history in the Netherlands and thereby a fitting destination for a remuneration of the no longer realizable restitution of lost Jewish private property.
The committee recommends allocating the other half of the monies to be paid to the Jewish Historical Museum (Joods Historisch Museum), which should use the fund thus created to stimulate a wide range of expressions of contemporary Jewish culture.
The distribution of the funds among both charities simultaneously benefits aspects of cultural preservation and contemporary cultural development. As the activities of the Cultural Heritage Foundation of the Portuguese-Israeli Community are to take place in close cooperation with the Jewish Historical Museum there is moreover a direct link between both charities which might lead to mutual reinforcement.
The committee recommends the allocation of half the amounts referred to in Recommendation 5 and 6 to the Cultural Heritage Foundation of the Portuguese-Israeli Community and the remainder to the Jewish Historical Museum, which should use the fund thus created to stimulate a wide range of expressions of contemporary Jewish culture.