I received a restitution request

Step-by-step plan for recipient of a restitution application

You have received a restitution application for an artwork, for example a painting that is hanging in your museum or is in your private collection. If you want the restitution application to be investigated and assessed by the Restitutions Committee, you can request a binding opinion. Below there is a description of the steps that have to be taken when submitting such a request.

Questions? You can contact the secretariat with questions and/or comments about the procedure, progress with the case etc. The Restitutions Committee’s working language is Dutch. It corresponds in English with applicants from outside the Netherlands.

Step 1  – Verify who owns the artwork whose restitution is being requested

Before you take any action to find a solution, you need to establish who actually owns the artwork whose restitution is being requested. If an artwork has been in the museum’s collection for decades, it might for instance be the property of the Dutch State, a local authority or a province. So first of all check carefully who currently owns the artwork and whether you are authorized to submit a restitution application to the Committee.

If the artwork concerned is in the Dutch National Art Collection, you can contact the RCE.

Step 2  – Other Collections? Reach agreement with the applicant

The binding opinion procedure is voluntary. This means that the party applying for restitution and you, as owner or the owner’s authorized representative, must decide to involve the Restitutions Committee. Both parties must state beforehand that they accept the opinion to be issued by the Restitutions Committee as binding and that they accept the Regulations. It is therefore important to reach agreement about this.

Together with the other party, you request the Restitutions Committee for an investigation and a binding opinion. To that end, you send the Restitutions Committee a letter signed by you as the owner of the claimed artwork (or as the owner’s authorized representative) and by the representative of the party applying for restitution. Both parties can also submit separate requests by means of two separate letters.

The letter(s) must clearly state the following:

  • Which artwork is concerned.
  • Where the artwork is (which museum/which collection).
  • Who the parties are. This concerns the current holder (for example a foundation or a provincial/local authority) on the one hand and the party applying for restitution of the artwork on the grounds of former ownership on the other.
  • Who the representatives of the two parties are and their contact details. A museum director could be the authorized representative of the current holder, for instance, with a representative of the family of the former owner on the other side.

The Committee will then provide you with further information about the next steps in the procedure.

If you have any questions regarding the above, please contact the Committee’s secretariat.

Checklist

  • Verify who is the current holder
  • State Collection? Contact the Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE)
  • Other Collections? Agree with the applicant to submit a request to the Committee
  • Submit a joint request for a binding opinion