The Restitutions Committee issues recommendations on applications for the restitution of works of art whose owners lost possession of them because of the Nazi regime. These works may now be owned by the State of the Netherlands (National Art Collection), a provincial/local government institution, a foundation or a private individual.
The Committee has been assigned two tasks pursuant to the decree by which it was established:
1) Advise the Minister of Culture on restitution claims regarding the Dutch State Collection
The Committee’s first task is to issue advice on decisions to be taken by the Minister for OCW concerning applications for the restitution of items of cultural value of which the original owners involuntarily lost possession due to circumstances directly related to the Nazi regime and which are currently owned by the State of the Netherlands (Article 2, paragraph 1 of the Decree).
The majority of these ‘National Art Collection cases’ concern works of art that are in a specific part of the National Art Collection, viz. the Netherlands Art Property Collection (NK collection). This NK collection is administered by the Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE) and comprises approximately 3,800 works of art with a ‘war history’. Most of these works were stolen or sold in the Netherlands during the Nazi regime and ended up in Germany. After 1945, these works of art were traced and collected by the Allies and sent back to the Netherlands, where they were placed under the administration of the State of the Netherlands. At the time, the instructions were to return the recovered works of art to the rightful owners or their heirs.
The Restitutions Committee assesses claims to items of cultural value from the Dutch State Collection based on standards of reasonableness and fairness.
2) Binding opinion
The Committee’s second task is to advise on disputes concerning the restitution of items of cultural value between the original owner who, due to circumstances directly related to the Nazi regime, involuntarily lost possession of such an item, or the owner’s heirs, and the current owner, which is not the State of the Netherlands (Article 2, paragraph 2 of the Decree).
From 1 September 2018 research on the instructions of the Restitutions Committee will be conducted by the Restitution of Items of Cultural Value and the Second World War Expertise Centre, which is part of the NIOD.