Investigation launched into Nazi looted art in Dutch parliament

NL Times 24 May 2022

The Netherlands launched a major investigation to make sure that there is no Nazi-looted art in its collection, including paintings hung in museums, parliament, the Senate, embassies, and other government buildings, RTL Nieuws reports.

The investigation was sparked by concerns about the painting "Fishing boats off the coast" by Hague painter Hendrik Willem Mesdag, which hung in the Tweede Kamer, the Dutch parliament, for years. There are indications that the Nazis may have stolen the painting from a Jewish family during the Second World War. 

Tweede Kamer president Vera Bergkamp had the painting taken down the moment she learned about the concerns. "When I read that, I immediately said it should be investigated as soon as possible. It is my moral responsibility to cooperate with his," Bergkamp said to the broadcaster.

The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands will examine all works in the Netherlands Art Property Collection that were returned from Germany by the Allies after the war. A similar investigation was done just after the war, but improved techniques may reveal new information. The research is expected to take around four years.

"The entire collection consists of a total of 3,500 works of art," Dolf Muller of the Cultural Heritage Agency said to RTL Nieuws. If the researchers discover looted art in the Dutch collection, they'll do everything they can to find the original owner. 

Since World War II, the Netherlands has returned nearly a thousand Nazi-looted artworks to their original owners, almost always Jewish families.
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