Amsterdam to return Kandinsky painting to Jewish family following public outcry

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Amsterdam to return Kandinsky painting to Jewish family following public outcry

Gallery will give back 'Painting with Houses', worth £22m, that it had acquired from a Jewish family that was under duress during the Holocaust.

Wassily Kandinsky, Painting with Houses ( Courtesy/ Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam via Times of Israel)
Wassily Kandinsky, Painting with Houses ( Courtesy/ Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam via Times of Israel)

Jewish groups this week hailed a decision by Amsterdam authorities requiring the city’s state museum to return suspected Nazi-looted paintings to the descendants of their original owners.

It follows an international outcry after the Dutch government said earlier this summer that it would “re-evaluate” the holdings of the Netherlands Art Property Collection and would ask the country’s Cultural Heritage Agency to help identify the providence.

Jewish families have to submit claims for the artworks’ return, then persuade a panel the benefit from their restitution trumps the benefit or public good of the institutions holding them.

In 2013, a Jewish family filed a claim for the restitution of Painting with Houses by the Russian abstract art pioneer Wassily Kandinsky, held by the city-owned Stedelijk Museum, but in 2020 an Amsterdam court said the museum could retain the £20 million painting, despite the Nazi theft.

The original owners sold the painting in 1940 for the equivalent of about £1,600 in today’s money, because they needed to fund their escape from Nazi Europe.

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