6. Assessment of the Dispute
6.1 The Committee first of all checks whether there is reason to declare a party inadmissible on the grounds of one of the reasons specified in article four of the Regulations applicable to this case. The Committee has satisfied itself that the dispute between the Applicants and the City Council has not previously been definitively dealt with. The Committee has not found a legal procedure or a judicial ruling relating to the work. Nor has it emerged that the Applicants previously explicitly renounced their rights to the work. In this regard the Applicants and their request are admissible.
6.2 Secondly, before it begins a substantive assessment the Committee checks whether the Applicants are entitled to the estates of the individuals who they contend were the original owners of the currently claimed work.
The Applicants assert that the work belonged to Robert Lewenstein, who at the time he obtained it was married in community of property to Irma Klein, and Wilhelmine Lewenstein. The applicants AA and BB have stated they are heirs of both Robert Lewenstein and Wilhelmine Lewenstein. In the Committee’s opinion the applicants AA and BB have proved their entitlement to Robert Lewenstein’s estate by submitting the legal opinion of 11 February 2016 drawn up by DD. The applicants AA and BB have proved their entitlement to Wilhelmine Lewenstein’s estate, at least in so far as it concerns the currently claimed work, by submitting the legal opinion of 20 March 2018, drawn up by the law firm of Vieira de Almeida & Associados of Lisbon, Portugal.
The applicant CC has stated she is entitled to Irma Klein’s estate. In the Committee’s opinion she proved this by submitting the ‘Statement’ of EE, notary in Amsterdam, of 7 May 2015.
6.3 It follows from 5.2 that an assessment based on the yardsticks of reasonableness and fairness begins with assessing whether the requirements have been met for establishing that it is highly likely that the original owner was indeed the owner and that it is sufficiently plausible that he or she lost possession of the artwork involuntarily as a result of circumstances directly related to the Nazi regime. This means that the Committee first addresses the question of who the claimed work belonged to when the sale took place on 9 October 1940. The parties do not dispute and also the Committee assumes on the grounds of the investigation report that the work belonged to Hedwig Lewenstein-Weijermann until her death on 25 May 1937.
6.3.1. The parties are not in agreement about who the work was assigned to after her death. According to the City Council it seems plausible that the work was assigned to Robert Lewenstein, and consequently the work ended up in the community property of Robert Lewenstein and Irma Klein and they obtained actual possession of the work. The Applicants believe that it cannot be established with certainty who the work was assigned to. The Applicants handed over a recommendation of 21 November 2017 drawn up by the lawyer FF at their request. Assignment of the work to Robert Lewenstein is referred to in it as a possibility. Another possibility that FF identified is that the work and the rest of the collection remained outside the scope of the deed of division of property of 24 January 1938 for taxation reasons. In their response to the draft investigation report the Applicants pointed out that the deed of 24 January 1938 contained no specific provisions concerning the art collection that Hedwig Lewenstein left, so therefore other documentary evidence needs to be studied. In this context they referred to the letter from Betty Lewenstein of 31 May 1948 to the Museum in which she wrote that the work The Colourful Life belonged to Lewenstein’s heirs and that Wilhelmine was one of the two heirs. According to the Applicants this indicates that Hedwig Lewenstein’s wish to leave her art collection to both her children was respected. In the Applicants’ opinion the fact that Wilhelmine Lewenstein left for Mozambique two days after signing the deed of 24 January 1938 indicates that the drawing of lots specified in the will was never carried out.
The Applicants believe that it should have been up to the Museum to clarify ambiguities about ownership of the work prior to its acquisition by the Museum in 1940. Betty Lewenstein’s letter in 1948 and Wilhelmine Lewenstein’s visit to the Museum in 1999 should have prompted the Museum to do this.
In the Applicants’ view, at the time of the sale the claimed work belonged to Wilhelmine Lewenstein, Robert Lewenstein and Irma Klein. The Applicants have agreed among themselves to divide the proceeds arising from the present restitution application according to an allocation formula irrespective of the Committee’s conclusion about who the work belonged to at the time of the sale.
6.3.2. The Committee finds as follows. Hedwig Weijermann’s will of 1 February 1937 contained an arrangement with regard to the paintings and etchings, namely division into two portions, which had to be assigned to her two children on the basis of drawing lots. It is not known whether this drawing of lots was ever carried out. No artworks were explicitly identified in the deed of 24 January 1938. There was, however, a reference to ‘nog aanwezige roerende lichamelijke zaken’ [‘movable tangible property still present’], elaborated as ‘inboedelgoederen, sieraden en verdere roerende lichamelijke zaken’ [‘household effects, jewellery and other movable tangible property’]. It was stated that this ‘movable tangible property still present’ was valued by the broker N. Jacobson of Amsterdam. No report was found during the investigation however.
In the deed the ‘movable tangible property still present’ was assigned to Robert Lewenstein. There are no indications that artworks, including the currently claimed work, were exempted from this assignment. It can be pointed out in this context that the parties to the deed declared in that same deed that the part of the estate to be divided consisted of nothing else than the possessions as specified in the deed. It was also expressly stated in the deed that a one-fifth undivided share in property in Amsterdam remained outside the scope of the division. There was no such provision with regard to artworks.
Various judicial documents, as referred to below in 6.3.3., furthermore mention the inventory of valuables, including artworks, which were still in the residence at 13h Bachplein after Robert’s departure in August 1938. None of these documents state that Wilhelmine still had rights with regard to these possessions.
In the Committee’s opinion the assignment of the ‘movable tangible property still present’ to Robert Lewenstein can be readily explained by the fact that Wilhelmine owed her mother NLG 16,250, as can be seen from the deed of 24 January 1938. It emerges from that same deed that Robert owed his mother NLG 2,000. In the deed the value of the ‘movable tangible property still present’ was set by the parties to the deed at NLG 14,250, with a reference to ‘het feit dat al deze nog aanwezige zaken aan den deelgenoot genoemden heer Robert Gottschalk Lewenstein worden toegedeeld waardoor deze alleen van een eventueele waardestijging zou genieten’ [‘the fact that all this property still present is assigned to the beneficiary named Mr Robert Gottschalk Lewenstein as a result of which he alone would benefit from any increase in value’]. In this way the claims the estate had on Robert and Wilhelmine and the ownership of the ‘movable tangible property still present’ were settled through a paper transaction. This course of events was also described thus in a biography of Wilhelmine Lewenstein (Bewegte Zeit – Bewegtes Leben. Das ungewöhnliche Leben der Wilhelmine de Castillio Serra) that a relative started to write in 2003, in which discussion of the division of the legacy includes the statement that ‘der Haushalt mit seinem wertvollen Inventar’ was offset against Wilhelmine’s debt to her mother.
The fact that Wilhelmine was on the point of emigrating to Mozambique with her husband is a further reason that explains why the ‘movable tangible property still present’ was assigned to Robert Lewenstein.
It is less easy to explain Betty Lewenstein’s letter to the Museum of 31 May 1948 referred to by the Applicants in which she wrote that The Colourful Life belonged to Lewenstein’s heirs, namely Robert Lewenstein and Wilhelmine Lewenstein. This letter, however, does not relate to the currently claimed work but to The Colourful Life, which is known to have been on loan to the Museum before the war. In addition, this single pointer which could suggest that Hedwig Lewenstein’s art collection remained undivided is not sufficient to set aside the indications, which in the Committee’s view are stronger, that the currently claimed work was assigned to Robert Lewenstein.
The Committee believes on the grounds of the above that it should be assumed that the work was assigned to Robert Lewenstein after Hedwig Lewenstein’s death. The Committee has taken note of the agreement made by the Applicants among themselves. This agreement cannot, however, affect the Committee’s task of answering the question about who the work belonged to at the moment possession was lost and, following on from this, who can claim the work in 2018. Answering this question is not only necessary for establishing who the entitled party is. It is also important to assessing the loss of possession and ultimately weighing up the interests involved.
6.3.3. At the time Robert Lewenstein obtained the work he was married in community of property to Irma Klein. There are no indications that the work remained outside the community of property. The following considerations address what most probably happened to the currently claimed work between its assignment to Robert Lewenstein and its sale by auction at Frederik Muller on 9 October 1940.
After Hedwig Lewenstein died, Robert Lewenstein and Irma Klein moved into her former home at 13h Bachplein in Amsterdam. Robert Lewenstein left in August 1938. Various judicial documents found during the investigation mention the valuables that were still in the residence at 13h Bachplein. On 4 May 1939, for example, Isaac Coopman wrote that Robert Lewenstein had left Irma Klein behind ‘in het groote huis (vol kostbare familie-inventaris)’ [‘in the large residence (full of valuable family possessions)’]. Robert Lewenstein’s lawyer, Alfred Levy, wrote on 11 May 1939 about the ‘bedoeld heerenhuis met kostbaren inboedel (schilderijen, antiquiteiten en andere kostbaarheden)’ [‘said residence with its valuables contents (paintings, antiques and other valuables)’] and on 2 November 1939 about ‘den kostbaren inventaris, herkomstig van gedaagdes ouders uit lang vervlogen financieel-goede tijden’ [‘the valuable inventory, originally owned by the respondent’s parents in financially good times of long ago’] over which Irma Klein had actual power. On 2 January 1940 Isaac Coopman wrote that Irma Klein found it immoral ‘als zij de kostbare familie-eigendommen, antiek en schilderijen thans zou verkoopen’ [‘if she were to sell the valuable family possessions, antiques and paintings now’]. In the Committee’s view it can be assumed on the grounds of these references that the art collection assigned to Robert Lewenstein after Hedwig Lewenstein’s death remained behind at 13h Bachplein, and that Irma Klein had actual power over it after Robert Lewenstein’s departure.
The term of the rental agreement for the residence at 13h Bachplein, which was still in Robert Lewenstein’s name, ended on 1 May 1940. Five days after the German invasion, on 15 May 1940, Irma Klein and her mother were registered as living at 9a¹ Beethovenstraat in Amsterdam. There are no indications that Irma Klein no longer had actual power over the art collection after this relocation.
6.3.4. The following can be assumed on the basis of the above. In the summer of 1940 the currently claimed work was with Irma Klein, or was otherwise in storage, and she had actual power over the work. As a result of the order of the Court of Amsterdam of 27 June 1940, which became final and conclusive on 27 September 1940, the work belonged to the dissolved but not yet divided community property of Robert Lewenstein and Irma Klein. The work was sold by auction on 9 October 1940 and purchased at the sale by the Museum.
Loss of possession
6.4 Despite extensive research, it has remained unclear how exactly the work ended up in the sale, on whose instructions and in which circumstances. The fate of the proceeds of the sale is also unclear. The Applicants contend that the work was stolen and then put into the sale. The have referred to the possible involvement of the Dienststelle Mühlmann (Mühlmann Agency) and Aloïs Miedl in the sale of Lewenstein’s art collection. They did not provide any evidence, however, and no indication whatsoever of the involvement of the Mühlmann Agency or Aloïs Miedl was found during the investigation conducted by the Committee. It is also important that, at this stage of the occupation, no anti-Jewish measures had come into force that were targeted at the confiscation of Jewish possessions, such as the later first and second Liro regulations in 1941 (VO 148/41) and 1942 (VO 58/42).
Regulation VO 26/1940 of 24 June 1940 concerning the treatment of enemy assets, however, was in force before and at the time of the sale. Under this regulation the assets, including movable goods, of Dutch nationals who lived or were staying in an enemy state, also including France, had to be declared and were not at their disposal. As described above, when the German occupation started Robert Lewenstein was in France, and he fled to the United States in around June 1940. At that time Germany did not yet consider the latter country to be an enemy state. No indications were found during the investigation that the German occupying forces confiscated the currently claimed work on the grounds of this regulation, something that in view of the regulation’s text was also not possible.
The Committee is aware that throughout the entire occupation, including outside these regulations, possessions were seized, but it found no indication that the currently claimed work was confiscated. In the case of a confiscation it would furthermore have been an obvious step to file a declaration after the occupation, for example with the Netherlands Art Property Foundation or in the context of requests for compensation. This did not happen however.
6.4.1 The Committee found two pointers that could lead to the conclusion that Irma Klein played a part in having the currently claimed work put into the sale. Firstly the biography of Wilhelmine Lewenstein, referred to earlier, states that there was a suspicion that Irma Klein played a part in the sale of the art collection: ‘Für den Rest ist ihr Bruder Bob Schlüsselfigur: Recherchen der Familie lassen vermuten, dass dessen zweite Ehefrau Irma, geb. Klein – Willy nennt sie, in Anspielung auf ihre rote Haarfarbe, nur ‘das rote Aas’ – etwas eigenmächtig die Bilder veräuβerte, das in holländischen Museen dem Zugriff der Nazis entgangen waren.’
A second indication of Irma Klein’s involvement in the sale arises from information that is known about The Colourful Life, as stated in 3.12. In 1948 acting museum director Jaffé wrote in September 1940 that this painting was handed over ‘op verzoek van de eigenaresse, Mevrouw Lewenstein-Weyermann’ [‘at the request of the owner, Mrs Lewenstein-Weyermann’]. The Committee assumes this refers to Irma Klein. Hedwig Lewenstein-Weyermann was, after all, already dead.
Although it is not crystal clear that the claimed work was put into the sale with cooperation from Irma Klein, the Committee has insufficient leads to conclude that her cooperation was absent. The Committee has after all established that prior to the sale the claimed work was under the actual power of Irma Klein. While Irma Klein was not entitled to put the work, which belonged to a dissolved but not yet divided community of property, up for auction without the cooperation of Robert Lewenstein, there is nothing to indicate that Robert Lewenstein did not provide this cooperation. It is also plausible that Robert Lewenstein would have provided this cooperation in view of the wish expressed by his lawyer before the occupation to proceed with selling the art collection. Furthermore, the possible absence of cooperation by Robert in the sale in respect of Irma Klein was provided for by the deed of division of 10 January 1947, as explained in 6.6 below.
6.5 When assessing the circumstances in which possession of the work was lost, the key question is whether it is sufficiently plausible that the owner lost possession of the work involuntarily as a result of circumstances directly related to the Nazi regime. It is important when answering this question that the Committee believes it is most plausible that the work was sold with the cooperation of Irma Klein and Robert Lewenstein. It has not been established, however, that their loss of possession of the work was voluntary and that the loss of possession cannot be linked to the Nazi regime. In this context the Committee first of all refers to the Ekkart Committee’s third recommendation of 2001, on the grounds of which sales by private Jewish individuals in the Netherlands from 10 May 1940 onwards must be considered to be involuntary, unless the facts expressly show otherwise. This recommendation, which involves a reversal of the burden of proof and is not directly applicable to binding opinion cases, was based on a judgment of the Council for the Restoration of Rights of 1 July 1952 in the Gutmann case. In this judgment the Council concluded that, even though there had not been direct coercion by the purchasers of the artworks, the special circumstances justified claiming they were forced sales. According to the Ekkart Committee this judgment represented a clear basis for a policy principle, namely that sales of artworks by Jewish Dutch nationals from 10 May 1940 will be classified as forced sales unless there is express evidence to the contrary. The Ekkart Committee concluded as follows. ‘Reeds bestaande of dreigende maatregelen van de bezetter tot inlevering van kunstvoorwerpen bij een bezettingsinstantie en het feit dat bij een vlucht uit lijfsbehoud de achtergebleven bezittingen zouden worden geconfisqueerd, vormden immers veelal de drijvende motieven om kunstbezit te gelde te maken.’ [‘Existing or threatened measures by the occupying forces under which works of art had to be surrendered to an agency of the occupying forces, and the fact that flight in order to save their own lives would mean confiscation of the possessions they left behind, usually represented compelling reasons for selling art holdings.’]
6.5.1. The reasons identified by the Ekkart Committee for Jewish owners to sell their art holdings appear to explain to an extent why Irma Klein and Robert Lewenstein put the currently claimed work and the rest of the art collection up for sale. In this context reference can be made to the following:
- In the nineteen-thirties Irma Klein fled to the Netherlands from Nazi Germany, where she was no longer able to find work as an actress because of her Jewish descent. She was therefore very probably well aware of the anti-Jewish measures taken by the Nazis in Germany and could clearly imagine what she could expect in the Netherlands.
- At a certain point Irma Klein began to provide for her brother and others. She also took care of her mother, who had fled Germany and lived with her. She would have needed financial resources for this, as well as for her own living expenses. The opportunities for an exiled German Jewish woman, legally separated from her husband, to acquire sufficient income on a regular basis will have been extremely limited.
- When the sale was held at Frederik Muller, no anti-Jewish measures aimed at confiscating Jewish possessions had yet come into force. Regulation VO 26/1940 of 24 June 1940, concerning the treatment of enemy assets, was already in force however. Although there are no indications that the currently claimed work was confiscated on the grounds of this regulation, there were at the time already fears that such a measure could be expected. In this context reference can be made a statement made by Irma in a summons of 31 August 1945 that during the war she had not requested division and distribution as part of her divorce action. She allegedly refrained from doing so because there was a risk ‘dat het aan gedaagde toekomende gedeelte der gemeenschap door Duitse instanties zou worden in beslag genomen’ [‘that the part of the community property allocated to the respondent would be seized by the German authorities’]. This impending measure could have been a possible reason for Irma to sell the art collection.
- As far as Robert’s position is concerned, it can be pointed out that he had already left the Netherlands in 1939 and that it is difficult to consider that departure as a direct consequence of the Nazi regime. This changed after May 1940 however. Robert made the prudent decision to flee France for the United States. While there, he lived in difficult financial circumstances however. It was not possible for his monthly allowance from the NV to be paid to him and he did not have the permits needed for working. These trying financial circumstances in which Robert found himself, although he was in a safe country, cannot be considered in isolation from the Nazi regime, and could have given him reason to cooperate in the sale of the art collection.
6.5.2. In view of the circumstances described above, there is a possible link between the sale of the currently claimed work and the threat the Nazi regime represented for Irma Klein, and to a lesser extent for Robert Lewenstein. Yet during the investigation no information was found on the grounds of which it can be concluded that the aforementioned circumstances played a role for Irma Klein or Robert Lewenstein in regard to putting the work into the sale.
It did emerge from the investigation, however, that the financial position of Robert and Irma deteriorated in the years prior to the sale. Reference can be made in this context to the decline of the assets and income of Robert Lewenstein’s parents prior to their deaths and the loss of NLG 100,000 that NV Lewenstein made in the 1935-1938 period. The departure of Robert Lewenstein as director of the NV and the divorce of Robert Lewenstein and Irma Klein will have contributed to these financial reversals. This financial decline was the consequence of events that were set in motion well before the German invasion and was therefore not the result of the Nazi regime.
There are also concrete indications that there was discussion about selling the art collection before the German invasion. On 2 November 1939 Alfred Levy wrote that ‘de stand van beide echtgenooten allerminst toelaat, den kostbaren inventaris, herkomstig van gedaagdes ouders uit lang vervlogen financieel-goede tijden, aan te houden, doch integendeel gebiedt, dien inventaris zoo spoedig mogelijk te gelde te maken’ [‘the position of the two spouses is far from permitting the retention of the valuable inventory, originally owned by the respondent’s parents in financially good times of long ago, but on the contrary calls for their inventory to be sold as quickly as possible’]. On 2 January 1940 Isaac Coopman wrote in response that Irma Klein ‘het immoreel (vindt) als zij de kostbare familie-eigendommen, antiek en schilderijen thans zou verkoopen, nu voor deze goederen geen koopers (buitenlanders) op de markt zijn, en slechts afbraakprijzen voor te krijgen zijn. / Het is bovendien niet in het belang van Lewenstein èn appellante als deze familie-stukken in het openbaar geëxecuteerd moeten worden, waarop dit geheele drijven dreigt uit te loopen’ [‘believes it would be immoral if she were to sell the valuable family possessions, antiques and paintings now since there are currently no buyers (foreigners) for these goods on the market and they would only fetch knock-down prices. / It is furthermore not in the interests of Lewenstein and the appellant if these family possessions have to be sold in public under duress, whereupon this whole matter could get out of hand’].
6.5.3. All in all this brings the Committee to the conclusion that the sale of the currently claimed work cannot on the one hand be considered in isolation from the Nazi regime, but on the other hand has to have been caused to an extent by the deteriorating financial circumstances in which Robert Lewenstein and Irma Klein found themselves well before the German invasion, also in view of the comments of those involved during the nineteen-thirties. In this case the determining factor is therefore the weighing up of interests to be conducted by the Committee.
Consequences of the division in 1947
6.6 Given consideration 6.3.4., it has been sufficiently well established that at the time of the sale the work belonged to the dissolved but not yet divided community property in the marriage between Robert Lewenstein and Irma Klein. As regards who can claim the work now, it is important to establish to whom the work was assigned in the end. The division of the community property was recorded in a deed of ‘scheiding en deling van al hetgeen behoort tot de in hun huwelijk bestaan hebbende gemeenschappelijke boedel’ [‘division and distribution of what belongs to the community of property existing in their marriage’] executed on 10 June 1947 before notary August Henri Ketel. There is no explicit reference in the deed to the claimed work or any other artwork. There is, however, the following comment about the distribution of the movable tangible property belonging to the community property.
‘Zij [Robert Lewenstein en Irma Klein] verklaarden daartoe vooraf: […] dat de tot de gemeenschappelijke boedel behorende roerende lichamelijke zaken reeds door partijen zijn verdeeld, hebbende ieder het hem of haar toebedeelde ontvangen, en dat voorts diverse activa en passiva, waarvan door partijen of een van hen wordt gepretendeerd, dat zij tot de gemeenschappelijke boedel behoren, in dier voege zijn gescheiden en verdeeld, dat ieder de in zijn of haar bezit zijnde activa behoudt en de door hem of haar betaalde passiva voor zijn of haar rekening houdt, behoevende er terzake van een of ander geen verrekening plaats te hebben.’ [‘They [Robert Lewenstein and Irma Klein] stated to that end beforehand … that the movable tangible property belonging to the community of property has already been distributed by the parties, each of them having received what is assigned to him or her, and that furthermore various assets and liabilities, which are claimed by one or both of the parties, that belong to the community of property, have been divided and distributed in such a manner that each of them retains assets in his or her possession and the liabilities paid by him or her are retained for his or her account and that no settlement is necessary in regard to all this.’]
On the grounds of the law applicable at the time, this division was declarative and came into effect retroactively on the day the community of property was dissolved as a result of the legal separation. In the Committee’s opinion it follows from this that Irma Klein, who at the moment that the community of property was dissolved had actual possession of the currently claimed work, as a result of the retroactive division agreement in any event until 27 September 1940, the date on which the separation order became final and conclusive, became sole owner of the currently claimed work. This leads to the conclusion that only the heir of Irma Klein, the applicant CC, can claim the work.
Acquisition by the City Council
6.7 Under Dutch law it must be assumed that the City Council is now the owner of the work. The Applicants have argued that the City Council acted in bad faith when it acquired the work at a sale in 1940. They did not, however, make this plausible with facts that could underpin their argument. The mere fact that at a sale in October 1940 the City Council purchased a work that came from a Jewish owner does not mean that this transaction did not take place in good faith.
Weighing up interests
6.8 The Committee now comes to weighing up the interests involved. It follows from the foregoing that the Committee will take into account the interests of the applicant CC in restitution of the artwork and the interests of the City Council in retaining the work. Upon request, the applicant CC explained her interest in restitution of the work in a letter dated 5 June 2018 as follows. ‘For me, as far as it matters, I think the story simply may not end with people, institutions, governments, or anyone, getting away with what they wrongfully did. This is about more than the painting itself. Returning the ownership of the painting would do justice to the memory of Irma and Robert and to those who stand near them’.
The Committee takes account of the following.
- The sale of the currently claimed work in October 1940 cannot be considered in isolation from the Nazi regime, but it was also in part the consequence of the deteriorating financial circumstances in which Robert Lewenstein and Irma Klein found themselves well before the German invasion. In the Committee’s view this provides a less powerful basis for restitution than a case in which there was theft or confiscation.
- It has furthermore not emerged that Irma Klein made efforts during the period after the German occupation to request the Museum to return the currently claimed work despite the reasonable assumption that she knew or could have known the work was there. In view of the various loans, the Museum had a good relationship with the Lewenstein family and with Irma Klein before and after the war. Irma Klein’s heir, the applicant CC, similarly did not make any attempts to request the return of the work and initially was not among the Applicants for restitution in this case.
- It has not emerged that the City Council did not acquire the work in 1940 in good faith. It has had the work in its possession since then. Its contention that the work has important art historical value and is an essential link in the limited overview of Kandinsky’s work in the Museum’s collection, has a corresponding place in that collection, and is included in the permanent display has been insufficiently contested by the Applicants and is in accordance with the Committee’s own opinion.
- As regards the interests of the applicant CC, all that is known is that she is acting as Irma Klein’s heir without declaring any past emotional or other intense bond with the work.
Taking all this into account, the Committee concludes that the interest of the applicant CC in restitution does not outweigh the interest of the City Council in retaining the work.
7. The above leads to the conclusion that the Committee will reject the restitution application.