(Image: collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam)
In a letter to the Amsterdam City Council, Mayor Femke Halsema and councilor for cultural affairs Touria Meliani (GroenLinks) state that they will follow the advice of the Kohnstamm Committee on the Dutch restitution policy for Nazi looted art. The Municipality requests to review a rejected claim by the Lewenstein heirs for the return of the painting Bild mit Häusern (1909) by Wassily Kandinsky, currently in possession of the Stedelijk Museum. Gert Jan van den Bergh argues in NRC that one the one hand, The Kohnstamm Report entails an important correction to the policy on return of Nazi looted art, but one the other, good faith acquisition may still play a role in the decision-making process. As such, claimants run the risk that museums’ interests are taken into account in the assessment of claims. In addition, the rejection of many restitution applications is the result of an excessively strict burden of proof on the part of the heirs; something that the Kohnstamm Committee wrongly omitted to discuss in its report.