23 June 2014: The Dutch Restitutions Committee has advised Minister of Education, Culture and Science Jet Bussemaker to reject a claim to a part of the Koenigs collection which was returned from Kiev, Ukraine, in 2004. This advice has been accepted.
The advice issued on 14 April 2014 concerns 139 drawings and three etchings from the pre-war art collection of the banker Franz Wilhelm Koenigs. The artworks were returned from Kiev, Ukraine, to the Netherlands in 2004 and are currently part of the Dutch National Art Collection (NK collection). They are in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam on long-term loan.
Franz Koenigs was a German-born banker who settled in Haarlem in the nineteen-twenties and was later granted Dutch nationality. He built up an important art collection in the Netherlands. In 2005 a granddaughter of Franz Koenigs submitted an application for the restitution of the 142 works.
According to the Committee it has not been made sufficiently plausible that Franz Koenigs's loss of possession is directly related to the Nazi regime. In this regard it has judged that the transfer on 2 April 1940, in other words before the German invasion, by Franz Koenigs (who was not Jewish) of his collection to the bank, established in the Netherlands, to which he owed a debt that had become payable is of prime importance. The artworks did not get into the hands of the Nazis until after this transfer and after a subsequent sale to a Dutch buyer.
The full text of the Restitutions Committee's recommendation can be read here.
The Koenigs claimants have issued their own press release in response to the decision. To see the press release, click here.