Dutch Officials Urge New Look at Claim on Painting by Jewish Heirs

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In the letter, Amsterdam’s mayor, Femke Halsema, and several other officials, known collectively as the College of Mayor and Alderpersons, wrote that they agreed with the findings of the committee, which argued for greater empathy in the restitution process.

“The Jewish people were deprived of their possessions, rights, dignity and, in many cases, their lives,” said the letter, according to a translation provided to The New York Times. “Insofar as something can still be restored of the great injustice done to them, we, as a society, have a moral obligation to act accordingly.”

The Stedelijk Museum is responsible for the city of Amsterdam’s art collection of about 95,000 works. David Röell, director of the Stedelijk, acquired the painting during an auction in 1940. It had, the restitution panel found, previously belonged to Robert Lewenstein and Irma Klein. But the panel also said that its transfer had to have been caused, to some extent, by “the deteriorating financial circumstances in which Robert Lewenstein and Irma Klein found themselves well before the German invasion.”

In addition, the panel found that while one claimant, an heir to Ms. Klein, “has no special bond with” the painting, the work “has a significant place” in the Stedelijk’s collection.

When the culture minister’s committee faulted the restitution panel’s “balance of interests” approach in its report in December, two members of the restitution commission, including its chairman, resigned.

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