Lewenstein heirs vs Stedelijk Museum

Hagedorn and Palmer 8 September 2020

Hearing before the District Court of Amsterdam, at 9:30 a.m. on 29 October 2020

In the proceedings before the Amsterdam District Court, the Lewenstein heirs have instituted a claim against the municipality of Amsterdam and the Stedelijk Museum. The Lewenstein heirs (represented by Mr James Palmer of Mondex Corporation) are claiming restitution of Kandinsky’s painting Bild mit Häusern (1909). In 2018, the Restitutions Committee decided that there is no entitlement to restitution. The proceedings before the court take issue with this position.

This matter has been covered in a range of media, including NRC, Het Parool and Nieuwsuur ( on 11 March 2020, from 30:30 minutes onwards.

In the opinion of the heirs, the Restitutions Committee wrongly made important assumptions that are not borne out by the facts and that are contrary to the Dutch restitution policy formulated by the Ekkart Committee, and others. This committee established that the sale of works of art by Jewish private individuals in the Netherlands from 10 May 1940 is deemed to be a forced sale, unless proven otherwise. The Restitutions Committee reversed this starting point. For the record, the Kandinsky painting was sold by auction on 8/9 October 1940 in Amsterdam and bought by the Stedelijk Museum for 160 guilders, a fraction of its value at the time.

The Stedelijk Museum did not act in good faith when it acquired the painting. For instance, it made price-fixing agreements with another bidder prior to the auction. The Stedelijk Museum’s own investigation of acquisitions disregarded facts and created the appearance that a thorough study had been conducted, whereas that was not actually the case.

The Restitutions Committee has created the appearance of a conflict of interest. Several members of the Restitutions Committee have particular ties with the Stedelijk Museum. For this reason, these members should not have been allowed to cooperate in the Restitutions Committee’s decision. This is confirmed in an independent expert report by a Dutch professor at Utrecht University.

The Lewenstein heirs fail to understand why the Stedelijk Museum retains looted art and chooses to continue to retain it.

If you are interested to attend the court hearing we advise to contact the District Court in time ( tel.: 0031 88 3611440. There is limited availability – also due to COVID-19 – and various media have indicated their interest to attend.

For further information, please contact:

Prof. dr. A. Hagedorn (Van Diepen Van der Kroef)          James Palmer, Founder, Mondex Corporation                                                                                                           

+31 20 5 74 74 52, +31 6 513 80 555                             +1 416 972 1877                               




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