The Hague, 15 March 2018 – The Restitutions Committee has issued a binding opinion about the application for restitution of the painting Blick auf Murnau mit Kirche by Wassily Kandinsky, currently in the possession of Eindhoven City Council. The Committee takes the view that the city council is not obliged to restitute the work.
Eindhoven City Council became the painting’s owner in 1951 because the Van Abbemuseum bought it from art dealer Karl Alexander Legat in The Hague. Since then the work has been part of the museum’s collection. The applicants argue that the work should be restituted because it belonged to their grandmother/great-grandmother Johanna Margareta Stern-Lippmann (Berlin, 1874 – Auschwitz, 1944) and that she lost possession of it involuntarily as a result of circumstances directly connected with the Nazi regime. The applicants and the city council laid the claim before the Committee for investigation and a binding opinion.
The Committee established that one painting by Kandinsky (‘Landschaft’) is mentioned in a 1924 will of Mrs Stern-Lippmann and her husband. The couple had an extensive art collection. The Committee also took note of a photograph album submitted by the applicants which contains an old photograph in which the work can be seen. The Committee deems it highly plausible that the claimed work belonged to the Stern-Lippmann collection.
The Committee then addressed the question of whether it can be deemed sufficiently plausible that Margareta Stern-Lippmann lost possession of the work involuntarily as a result of circumstances directly related to the Nazi regime. The Committee answers this question in the negative because there are no known facts to show what happened to the work during the period between 1924 (the will) and 1951 (purchase by the museum). In its binding opinion of 29 January 2018 it therefore concluded that the city council is not obliged to restitute the painting.
About the Restitutions Committee
The Advisory Committee on the Assessment of Restitution Applications for Items of Cultural Value and the Second World War advises about claims to items of cultural value lost during the Nazi period, also referred to as looted art. Since the Restitutions Committee was established in 2002 it has issued 154 recommendations and opinions and has had 174 claims submitted to it.
Relevant binding opinion: Blick auf Murnau mit Kirche by Wassily Kandinsky