Investigation into the provenance of museum collections in connection with the theft, confiscation and sale of objects under duress between 1933 and 1945.

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What can the results of the investigation signify for the rightful owners and their heirs?

What can the results of the investigation signify for the rightful owners and their heirs?

A provenance investigation is conducted in the case of problematic works. This can have various outcomes. For example, a work may turn out to have been legitimately acquired by a museum and therefore does not fall into the category of looted art. A work can also be classified as looted art, and where it came from be unknown. A variation on this is the situation in which a work was identified as looted art and restituted directly after the Second World War, and subsequently sold by the owner or heir. In these three instances the provenance investigation yields clarity. This, however, is certainly not always the case. One may suspect that a work is looted art, while the provenance is obscure. In that instance an assessment is always made whether it is still possible to recover the exact provenance. These works are published on this website precisely in order to make their record of ownership transparent. The selection of objects with a (possibly) problematic provenance is based on the following criteria mo re...

Options for heirs

If the pedigree of a work is clear, heirs can consult with its owner or the museum (often the keeper). Options include compensating the owner or heir for the work of art, or updating the provenance (if the object is on display, on the accompanying label, for example) in order to do justice to its history. In consultation with the owner, heirs can also lay a claim on the work. Since 2002, in consultation with the present owner, the claimant can submit a claim to a stolen work of art to the Advisory Committee on the Assessment of Restitution Applications for Items of Cultural Value and the Second World War (in short referred to as: the Restitutions Committee) for investigation and advice as an alternative way of settling a dispute. The Restitutions Committee comprises lawyers, a historian, and an art historian. In the case of a work in the collection of a museum, a private individual, or a local government (municipality, province, or other public body), the Restitutions Committee gives a binding recommendation. This advice is based on extensive analysis and consideration of the interests of both the heirs and the keeper or present owner of the work of art. The recommendation may entail awarding the work to the heirs, or leaving it in possession of the museum, but also, for example, compensating the heirs for the loss. If it concerns an object in the possession of the Dutch State, family members or heirs of the original owner can submit a written request for restitution to the Minister of Education, Culture and Science.
For additional information on the advisory procedure, the reader is referred to the website of the Restitutions Committee.

All information available

All museum acquisitions made after 1933 suspected of having changed hands through theft, forced sale, or other illegitimate transactions during the Nazi regime are disclosed online on this website. All of the available information on the ownership history and details of an object is given in Dutch, and – from 2014 – in English. Thus the visitors to this website can help clarify the provenance of a work of art. Furthermore, the website enables the original owners or their heirs to enter into consultation with the museum concerned, and perhaps even request restitution. This does not alter the fact that (when on the basis of a museum investigation the names of owners or heirs can be traced) these museums are encouraged to seek out the owners or their heirs themselves.