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The painting Odalisque returns to Albert Stern’s legal successors

25 June 2024
Schilderij Odalisque door Henri Matrisse (foto: Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam) Odalisque by Henri Matisse (photo: Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam)

The Restitutions Committee has advised Amsterdam City Council to restitute the painting ‘Odalisque’ (Henri Matisse) to Albert Stern’s legal successors. The Painting has been in the collection of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam since 1941 and is currently in the possession of the Amsterdam City Council.

The Committee came to the conclusion that the textile manufacturer Albert Stern was the owner of the painting during the occupation on the grounds of the investigation conducted by the Commission for Looted Art in Europe and assessed by the Expert Centre Restitution NIOD. After the Nazis had come to power in January 1933, the Stern family was subjected to persecution in Germany because of its Jewish descent, and it was gradually stripped of its possessions and means of livelihood. The family fled to the Netherlands in 1937 and thereafter made several attempts to escape Europe. The family’s circumstances deteriorated to such an extent that it was forced to sell its belongings.

On 19 July 1941 the Painting was sold to the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam with the help of Lieuwe Bangma, with whom the Stern family had business and personal ties. As a non-Jewish Dutch national, during the occupation Lieuwe Bangma had free access to his bank balances and was not threatened with financial and material expropriation. It is sufficiently plausible that the sale of the Painting was connected to the measures taken by the occupying forces against Jewish members of the population and arose from a desire for self-preservation.

Relevant binding opinion and summary: Albert Stern / Amsterdam City Council


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