On 26 April 2004, Amsterdamse Negotiatie Compagnie NV in liquidation (referred to below as ‘the Applicant’) filed a substantiated application with the State Secretary for Culture, Education and Science (referred to below as ‘the State Secretary’) for the restitution of 241 itemised art objects described in the application as ‘the goods that the State of the Netherlands has in its custodianship and that were part of the Goudstikker Collection’. The State Secretary submitted this application to the Restitutions Committee (referred to below as ‘the Committee’) for its advice in a letter dated 10 June 2004. In a letter of 31 July to the State Secretary and letters of 8 January 2005 and 31 July 2005 to the Committee, the Applicant revised the list of 241 art objects enclosed with the letter of 26 April 2004, expanding it to a list of 267 art objects.
According to a statement in the first application, the application is ‘supported’ by Marei von Saher-Langenbein (referred to below as ‘von Saher-Langenbein’), the widow of Eduard von Saher, Jacques Goudstikker’s only son. At the request of the Committee, the authorised representatives explained the meaning of this support in a letter of 8 January 2005. This was provided ‘in case goods were included among the reclaimed art objects that belonged to the private assets of Mr Jacques Goudstikker and/or Mrs Desi Goudstikker-von Halban.’ Because this was not the case, the Committee regards Amsterdamse Negotiatie Compagnie NV in liquidation as the sole applicant. Amsterdamse Negotiatie Compagnie NV has been the new name of Kunsthandel J. Goudstikker NV (referred to below as ‘Goudstikker’) since a 1952 resolution. The liquidation of assets of the company wound up as from 14 December 1955, which was concluded on 28 February 1960, was reopened on 31 March 1998 by order of the Amsterdam District Court.
R.O.N. van Holthe tot Echten, Master of Laws, and Prof. H.M.N. Schonis, Master of Laws, are acting in the proceedings before the Committee as the authorised representatives of the Applicant and of von Saher-Langenbein.
The Committee has reviewed all the written documents submitted in this case, specifically including the applications and explanatory notes filed with the State Secretary on behalf of the Applicant on 26 April 2004 and 31 July 2005, the reply dated 8 January 2005 from the Applicant’s authorised representatives to the Committee’s questions and the response of 31 July 2005 to the draft investigatory report compiled by the Committee. For the State Secretary’s part, the Committee has read a letter with appendices of 30 September 2004 from deputy State Advocate H.C. Grootveld, Master of Laws, to the director of the Cultural Heritage Department of the Ministry of Culture, Education and Science with respect to the status of judicial cases pending before the court in which the State of the Netherlands and the Applicant are involved.
During a hearing on 12 September 2005 organised by the Committee, the Applicant provided a verbal explanation of its application. Besides the authorised representatives Van Holthe tot Echten and Schonis, the following persons attended on behalf of the Applicant: Von Saher-Langenbein (the Applicant’s liquidator as well as the ‘supporter’ of the application), Charlène von Saher (Jacques Goudstikker’s granddaughter), A. Bursky (the Applicant’s liquidator), L.M. Kaye, Esq. (Von Saher-Langenbein’s counsel), Prof. I. Lipschits (the Applicant’s advisor), Mr C. Toussaint (the Applicant’s art history advisor), R. Smakman (colleague of authorised representative Van Holthe tot Echten), as well as the interpreters Van den Berg and Cillekens. A transcript was drafted of the hearing, which the Committee sent to the authorised representatives in a letter dated 13 October 2005.
In response to the requests for advice it has received, the Committee instituted a fact-finding investigation, the results of which are documented in a draft report dated 25 April 2005 that was sent to the Applicant on 4 May 2005. In a letter of 31 July 2005, the Applicant sent its response to the Committee’s draft report. Subsequently, points of the draft report were revised. This response has been appended to the documentary report (referred to below as ‘the Report’) adopted by the Committee on 19 December 2005. The Report is deemed to comprise part of this recommendation.