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Koenigs collection claim rejected

10 December 2013

THE HAGUE, 10 December 2013 – The Restitutions Committee has advised Minister of Education, Culture and Science Jet Bussemaker to let an earlier decision to reject the Koenigs claim stand. This advice has been accepted.

The advice issued on 12 November 2013 concerns 34 paintings and 37 drawings from the pre-war art collection of the banker Franz Wilhelm Koenigs. In the case of a few paintings it was not possible to ascertain with certainty they were in the collection, but it has been established for the majority of the artworks.

Currently these works are part of the collection in possession of the Dutch State. Most of the works of art are in the so-called Netherlands Art Property Collection, which consists primarily of items that were returned from Germany to the Netherlands after the Second World War and came in the custody of the State of the Netherlands. The drawings are in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. One painting by Rubens is part of the collection of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Franz Koenigs was a German-born banker who settled in Haarlem in the nineteen-twenties and later acquired Dutch nationality. He built up an important art collection in the Netherlands. In 2002 a granddaughter of Franz Koenigs submitted an application for the restitution of the 34 paintings and 37 drawings. On 10 December 2003 the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science rejected this application on the advice of the Restitutions Committee (RC 1.6). During the years since then some members of Franz Koenigs’s family conducted new research and new records came to light. These family members submitted a new claim to the Minister of Education, Culture and Science. The Minister asked the Committee on 13 December 2010 to issue a new advice on the claim. The Committee has investigated the claim in its advice issued on 12 November.

In this advice the Committee expresses the opinion that the new information, in conjunction with what was already known, gives no reason to revise the advice given earlier. According to the Committee it has not been made sufficiently plausible that Franz Koenigs’s loss of possession is directly related to the Nazi regime. In this regard it has judged that the transfer of ownership on 2 April 1940, at a time before the German invasion of the Netherlands and in a situation where the Nazi’s were not in power, by Franz Koenigs (who was not Jewish) of his collection to the bank cannot be seen as involuntary as a result of circumstances directly related to the Naziregime. Of prime importance here is that Koenigs owed a debt to the bank that had become payable. Only after this transfer, and after a subsequent sale to Dutch buyers, artworks got into the hands of the Nazis.

The Committee believes it has been able to have access to all the information necessary to enable it to advise. As regards certain points, about which the applicants wanted to make further investigation compulsory during the procedure, the Committee takes the view that detailed particulars about them are not relevant to the question of whether the claimed works are eligible for restitution.

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 Nazi looted art. Since the Restitutions Committee was established in 2002 it has issued advice on 128 cases and has had 140 claims submitted to it.


This press release is a very condensed summary of the advice given by the Restitutions Committee to the Minister of Education, Culture and Science. Nothing in this summary creates any rights or obligations. Only the complete text is authentic.

Relevant recommendation: Koenigs (II)


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