Summary of binding opinion
The Restitutions Committee has assessed the application submitted by the people entitled to the estate of Emma Budge (1852-1937) for restitution of a goblet holder made by the artist Andries Grill (1604-1665) and a pottery dish (artist unknown, Sultanabad, c. 1285-1400). It emerged from research conducted by the Expert Centre Restitution (ECR) that these artworks came from the private collection of the Jewish Emma Budge. It has also become sufficiently plausible that her beneficiaries lost possession of the artworks involuntarily in Germany after 1933.
It is known that, at some unknown moment, the artworks became part of the art collection of the Budges, who lived in Hamburg. After the Nazis came to power, Emma Budge had a number of wills drawn up relating to the disposition and sale of her art collection, but her executors were unable to implement her wishes after her death in 1937. Contrary to her instructions, the goblet holder and the pottery dish went under the hammer in Berlin at the Paul Graupe auction house, which had meanwhile been Aryanized. They were purchased by the then Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.
Emma Budge and her beneficiaries, because of their Jewish descent, belonged to a persecuted population group and the loss of possession happened during the Nazi regime. On the grounds of criterion 3.1 of the applicable assessment framework, the Committee must assume that the loss of possession was involuntary, unless the facts expressly show otherwise. The changes that Emma Budge made to the provisions in her will cannot be considered in isolation from the political developments in Germany and rise to power of the Nazi regime. In view of the pressure exerted on the executors, which resulted in them acting in a way that was very different from what Emma Budge’s will intended, having the goblet holder and the pottery dish sold at auction was not a free choice. It is furthermore plausible that the Budge beneficiaries did not have free disposal of the proceeds of the sale as a result of the severe anti-Jewish measures. The loss of possession was therefore not voluntary.
The Committee has ruled that The Hague City Council should restitute the goblet holder made by Andries Grill and the pottery dish (artist unknown, Sultanabad, c. 1285-1400), which are currently in the Kunstmuseum Den Haag, to the people entitled to the estate of Emma Budge.