Gutmann (IV-A)

Recommendation regarding Herbert Gutmann

Recommendation number: 
1.115-A
Type: 
NK collection
Publishing date: 
19 December 2011

Recommendation regarding Herbert Gutmann[1]

In a letter dated 15 June 2009, the Minister for Education, Culture and Science (hereafter referred to as: the Minister) requested the Restitutions Committee (hereafter referred to as: the Committee) to issue a recommendation concerning the application for restitution dated 24 February 2009 submitted by N.P., F.FG., M.MF., C.E.G. and N.M.G. (hereafter referred to as: the applicants). The application for restitution relates to various objects in the Netherlands Art Property collection administered by the State (hereafter referred to as: the NK collection). The current recommendation concerns the following four sculptures:

  • NK 2758, Anonymous, Hercules and the Erymantic wild boar, bronze on a white and red marble pedestal, Italy, 19th century, bronze.
  • NK 2965, Anonymous (previously attributed to P. Tacca), Faun, France, 19th century, bronze.
  • NK 2966, Anonymous (previously attributed to P. Tacca), Faun, France, 19th century, bronze.
  • NK 2967, Anonymous, Bust of a Jesuit, Italy, c. 1625, bronze.

THE PROCEDURE

The Committee initially registered the Minister’s recommendation request of 15 June 2009 under case number RC 1.115. In a letter dated 9 November 2009, the Minister then requested the Committee to add an application for the restitution of an earthenware dish (NK 615) to the file. The applicants had also claimed this object in their letter of 24 February 2009, but it was not submitted to the Minister for advice at the time. The Committee subsequently incorporated the claim to NK 615 in the file with the number RC 1.115.
Following the Minister’s request for advice, the Committee instigated a fact-finding investigation. The results of the investigation were included in a draft report dated 20 June 2011. In a letter dated 19 July 2011, the Committee sent the draft investigatory report to the applicants for comment. In a letter dated 11 July 2011, the Committee also asked the heirs of Fritz Gutmann, another branch of the Gutmann family, for further information about the nature of the loss of possession of the currently claimed art objects and NK 615. In reply, the Fritz Gutmann heirs advised in a letter dated 28 July 2011 that they had no further factual information to add. Further to this, however, on 11 August 2011, they also submitted a claim to NK 615. In a letter dated 6 September 2011, the Minister then submitted this second claim to NK 615 to the Committee.
In response to the foregoing, the Committee decided to split the RC 1.115 file into two. The art objects that are only being claimed by Herbert Gutmann’s heirs have been incorporated into file number RC 1.115-A, concerning which the Committee’s partial recommendation is found below. In connection with the competing claims by two branches of the Gutmann family, the partial recommendation RC 1.115-A regarding NK 615 will be issued at a later date.
After several delays, the applicants responded to the draft investigatory report in a letter dated 31 October 2011. In this letter, the applicants withdrew their initial claim to NK 2947. The draft investigatory report was amended on the basis of the applicants’ response. The investigatory report was then adopted on 19 December 2011. The Committee refers to this investigatory report for the facts underlying the current recommendation.
The applicants were represented in this procedure by lawyer O. Ossmann of Winterthur (Switzerland).

CONSIDERATIONS

  1. The applicants claim to be heirs of Herbert Max Magnus Gutmann (hereafter referred to as: Herbert Gutmann). In this connection, the Committee has taken cognisance of several legal inheritance documents, on the basis of which it saw no reason to doubt the applicants’ status as persons entitled to Herbert Max Gutmann’s property.

    The applicants claim that the currently claimed objects belonged to the undivided estate of Eugen Gutmann, who died in 1925, and that his son Herbert Gutmann was entitled to one-sixth of this inheritance. The applicants furthermore state that Fritz Gutmann lost the currently claimed objects involuntarily during the Nazi regime. Fritz Gutmann was also a son of Eugen Gutmann, who administered the art collection that was part of the inheritance referred to, on behalf of the six heirs.

  2. The relevant facts are included in the investigatory report dated 19 December 2011. The following is a summary.

    Herbert Gutmann’s father, the Jewish banker Eugen Gutmann (1840-1925), was co-founder of the Dresdner Bank AG established in Dresden in 1872. He was married to Sophie Magnus (1852-1915), with whom he had seven children, namely Lili, Antonie (Toinon), Walter, Herbert, Kurt, Max and Fritz Gutmann. When the head office of the Dresdner Bank moved to Berlin in 1884, the family followed. Eugen Gutmann built up an art collection that was famed in the art circles of the day. After Eugen Gutmann’s death in 1925, this collection was held in joint ownership by his six children, each being entitled to one sixth (the eldest son Walter had already died in 1917).

    The N.V. Trust & Administratie Maatschappij (Trustenad) had been set up in Amsterdam on 4 July 1921 to look after the financial interests of Eugen Gutmann’s children.

  3. Herbert Gutmann was born on 15 October 1879 as the fourth of Eugen Gutmann’s children. He became deputy director of the Dresdner Bank branch in London in 1903. Herbert Gutmann had three children with his wife Daisy Stephanie Thekla Anna Bertha Luise von Frankenberg und Ludwigsdorf(f). The family lived alternately in Berlin and Potsdam, where Herbert Gutmann amassed his own art collection. From 1933, the Dresdner Bank, which was under government supervision, fell under control of the National Socialists. Herbert Gutmann was forced to resign from various of the bank’s advisory bodies. In the early 1930s, he was also faced with financial difficulties. In April 1934, he put his art collection up for auction. He left Germany in October 1936 to settle in London. Herbert Gutmann died on 22 December 1942.

  4. After his death, Eugen Gutmann’s collection was administered by his brother Fritz. Fritz Gutmann had settled in the Netherlands in 1918 and had been granted Dutch nationality in 1924. He lived with his family in ‘Huize Bosbeek’, a country house near Heemstede, where he, too, amassed a large art collection. He kept the objects from the collection of his father, Eugen Gutmann, in a separate safe in Huize Bosbeek. It appears that in the period after Eugen Gutmann’s death various changes took place in the composition of Eugen Gutmann’s collection. For instance, various works of art from the collection were sold during that period. In addition, the investigation revealed that various works were at some time or other placed in consignment with art dealership K.W. Bachstitz in The Hague.

  5. It is known of the currently claimed sculptures that they were recovered from Germany in 1946. This took place by reason of the fact that these objects had been acquired by the occupying forces from the Mannheimer collection, of which these sculptures had in any case been part since 25 June 1934 (see consideration 8).

  6. The Ekkart Committee’s eighth recommendation (2001) states as a condition for restitution that the title to the claimed objects is proved with a high degree of probability, and that there are no indications to the contrary. When assessing the current claim, it should first be established whether Herbert Gutmann’s right of ownership to the currently claimed objects is proven with a high degree of probability. To do this, it is important that this right of ownership can be dated to a point in time relevant to the present application for restitution.

  7. Source research has shown that the currently claimed sculptures were, in any case, part of the collection of Herbert’s father, Eugen Gutmann, in 1912. All four objects – NK 2758, NK 2965, NK 2966 and NK 2967 – are listed in the catalogue Die Kunstsammlung Eugen Gutmann [The Eugen Gutmann Art Collection] from 1912, compiled by Otto von Falke.

  8. The following emerged during the investigation with regard to the date and the circumstances of Eugen Gutmann’s loss of possession, or of that of the successors to his estate. The currently claimed sculptures were included in a catalogue of the Mannheimer collection, dated November 1935 - March 1936, which provides the following information about the provenance: ‘Aus der Sammlung Eugen Gutmann’ [From the Eugen Gutmann Collection].

    Fritz Mannheimer was a Jewish banker and art collector and a managing partner of the Mendelssohn & Co bank in Amsterdam. Over the years, Mannheimer built up an art collection in his villa in Amsterdam. On 25 June 1934, Mannheimer transferred his collection as collateral for a debt to Artistic, a company under English law, of which the Mendelssohn & Co. bank of Amsterdam was the sole shareholder. The collection remained in Mannheimer’s house after the transfer.

    It is of importance with regard to the current claim that Mannheimer evidently acquired the currently claimed sculptures before 25 June 1934. This is evidenced by the fact that each of these sculptures has what is known as an ‘Artistic number’. The objects that Mannheimer had transferred to Artistic in 1934 were given these inventory numbers.

    Together with the rest of the Mannheimer collection, the current sculptures were purchased by the German authorities during the occupation, after which they were taken to Germany.

  9. As for the question whether the currently claimed paintings were still co-owned by Herbert Gutmann during the Nazi regime, the Committee considers the following. Given that the sculptures were listed in the catalogue of the Mannheimer collection, with the so-called ‘Artistic numbers’ next to the claimed works (see consideration 8), the conclusion must be that Eugen Gutmann’s heirs lost possession of these objects in any case before 25 June 1934. Is has not become clear when this took place exactly. It may be that Eugen Gutmann himself, or his heirs, sold the works in the (long) period between 1912 and 1933 - that is, before the start of the Nazi regime.

    In connection with this, the Committee notes that Eugen Gutmann himself sold part of his collection during the 1920s, and another part was sold by his heirs after his death in 1925. Specific reference is made to the sale of a triptych that is also part of the Netherlands Art Property Collection (inventory number NK 2947). Eugen Gutmann, or his heirs, probably sold this altar, which was originally part of this claim, to Fritz Mannheimer at some point between 1912 and 1927. This object was in any event in Eugen Gutmann’s collection in 1912 and in Fritz Mannheimer’s collection in 1927. The latter is evidenced by an article from that year that makes reference to the altar and also shows a picture of it, under which is the entry ‘Amsterdam, Dr Mannheimer’. The Committee does not consider it impossible that the currently claimed works, mentioned in the Mannheimer catalogue together with the current NK 2947, were sold to Fritz Mannheimer in the (long) period between 1912 and 1927, possibly as part of the same transaction as NK 2947.

  10. Given that the investigation has shown that various objects from the Eugen Gutmann collection were sold to Fritz Mannheimer in the twenty-one years between 1912 and 1933, including the current NK 2947 (see consideration 9), the Committee believes that there is an undeniable chance that the currently claimed works were also transferred to Mannheimer before the start of the Nazi regime.

    The Committee is therefore of the opinion that it is not highly probable that the currently claimed objects still belonged to the Eugen Gutmann collection during the Nazi regime, making involuntary loss of possession pursuant to current restitution policy likewise not very probable.

CONCLUSION

The Restitutions Committee advises the Minister for Education, Culture and Science to reject the applicants’ claim to NK 2758, NK 2965, NK 2966 and NK 2967.

Adopted at the meeting of 19 December 2011 by W.J.M. Davids (chair), J.Th.M. Bank, P.J.N. van Os, E.J. van Straaten, H.M. Verrijn Stuart, I.C. van der Vlies (vice-chair), and signed by the chair and the secretary.

(W.J.M. Davids, chair)                                              (E. Campfens, secretary)



[1]     The Committee has previously issued recommendations concerning the Gutmann family. For instance, on 6 December 2010, it issued a recommendation concerning a garniture (NK 3223a-e) that was claimed by Herbert Gutmann’s heirs and the heirs of Fritz Gutmann (RC 1.114-A). In addition, the Committee also issued the following recommendations regarding the claims of Fritz Gutmann’s heirs: RC 1.2, RC 1.113, RC 1.114-B.