Dutch museum masterworks may be Nazi loot, survey finds

Tue Oct 29, 2013 9:09am EDT
 
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By Thomas Escritt

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A commission investigating the looting of Dutch property during the Nazi era said on Tuesday it had identified more than 100 works of art, including two 17th century portraits and eight other paintings from Amsterdam's famed Rijksmuseum.

Of a total 139 works, 61 of them could be linked to their original owners, the majority of them Jewish, said Rudi Ekkart, head of the commission which carried out the research.

That was one of the findings of a four-year investigation by a consortium of Dutch museums into the origins of works of art now in Dutch museums that may have been stolen from Jewish owners in the Netherlands between 1933 and 1945.

Ekkart declined to comment on the value of the works identified, saying that was not the purpose of the research, but said they clearly included pieces of art "of some value".

"There are objects that have a certain fame so you can imagine that they would command a high value if put on the market," said Siebe Weide, head of the Netherlands Museum Association, when asked how much the items may be worth.

The eight paintings at the Rijksmuseum, one of Europe's largest art collections, included "Portrait of William II, Prince of Orange, as a Child," a 1654 painting by Adriaen Hanneman, and "Portrait of Lord Dubbeldam" by Govert van Slingelandt, dating from 1657.

Gaps in the record of the works' ownership have raised the suspicion that they could have been looted during World War Two or that their original owners, many of them Jewish, may have been forced to sell them, the Netherlands Museum Association.

JUSTICE   Continued...