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Step-by-step Plan for Other Collections

You want to have an artwork, for example a painting that you saw hanging in a museum or that is in a private collection, restituted to you. If you want to have your restitution application 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.

You will also find a short checklist on this page.

‘Claim exhibition’ of paintings, drawings and tapestries in Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, 1950

Step 1  – Contact the museum

The binding opinion procedure is voluntary. This means that the current owner of the artwork must decide together with you to involve the Restitutions Committee. An artwork in a museum collection does not necessarily have to belong to the museum. It can, for instance, be a loan from a foundation, a local authority or a province. Contact the museum in order to find out who you would have to agree with about involving the Restitutions Committee. The museum will give you this information. In practice it often happens that the museum is authorized by the artwork’s owner, a local authority for instance, to act on its behalf in the proceedings

If it emerges that an artwork is from the Dutch National Art Collection, you must contact the RCE.

Step 2 – Agree with the current owner that the opinion will be accepted as binding

You and the current owner must state beforehand that you accept the opinion to be issued by the Restitutions Committee as binding and that you accept the Regulations. It is therefore important to reach agreement about this with the owner or the owner’s authorized representative (for example the museum).

Step 3 – Prepare a letter to the Restitutions Committee

Together with the other party, you request the Restitutions Committee for an investigation and a binding opinion. To that end send the Restitutions Committee a letter signed by the current owner of the artwork (or the owner’s authorized representative) and by you as representative of the party applying for restitution of the artwork. 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 (on the one hand the current owner, for example a foundation or a provincial/local authority, and on the other the party applying for restitution of the artwork on the grounds of former ownership);
  • who the representatives of the two parties are and their contact details (for example a museum director could be the authorized representative of the current owner, and a representative of the family could represent the former owner).

Step 4 – Obtain a certificate of inheritance

The Restitutions Committee will verify whether it can deal with the request for a binding opinion . It is a requirement that all those entitled to the assets of the former owner of the artwork are represented in the procedure . You must prove who these entitled persons and/or institutions are by means of a notarial certificate of inheritance or an equivalent document issued by a judicial authority. Such documentation should therefore be obtained as soon as possible.

Step 5 – Obtain powers of attorney from all those entitled

As an applicant you must prove that you are acting on behalf of all those entitled to the assets of the former owner of the artwork you are claiming. Obtain powers of attorney from all these persons and/or institutions as early as possible.

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


  • Who currently owns the artwork?
  • Who was the original owner?
  • Have you agreed to jointly request a binding opinion?
  • Is there a certificate of inheritance?
  • Do you have powers of attorney from all those entitled?