The Ekkart Committee
1 April 1999
The State Secretary of the Netherlands
The Ekkart Committee was appointed on 1 April 1999. The following were appointed members of the Committee: R.E.O. Ekkart (Chairman), Mevr. H. d'Ancona, R. Naftaniël, Mevr. R.H. Weiss-Blok, Mevr. H. Marres-Schretlen (secretary).
The Ekkart Committee supervises the provenance research carried out by Herkomst Gezocht (Origins Unknown) on art objects in the NK Collection. The NK Collection consists of works of art confiscated during World War II and repatriated from Germany after the war which remain in the custody of the Dutch state. The NK Collection is today part of the Instituut Collectie Nederland (ICN), which is itself part of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.
The Committee is also responsible for investigating the work carried out by the Netherlands Art Property Foundation (Stichting Nederlandsch Kunstbezit) (SNK) between 1945 and 1952 when it was responsible for the recovery and restitution of works of art.
In addition, the Committee makes recommendations to the Dutch government in respect of the policy for the restitution of works of art in the NK collection. To date these comprise Recommendations April 1998, and Recommendations for the Restitution of Works of Art, April 2001.
Recommendations, April 1998
On the grounds of the investigation carried out and the results discussed above, the Committee has arrived at the following recommendations:
1. Given the fact that the inventory of the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage (ICN) does not give a clear picture of the information available on the provenance of the works of art belonging to the Netherlands Art Property collection (NK collection), the Committee urges that the information on this subject, contained in the archive of the Netherlands Art Property Foundation (SNK) at the Ministry of Finance and collected between the years 1945 and 1952, be systematically compiled for all the Netherlands Art Property numbers still in the possession of the State and that this information be added to the inventory of the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage.
2. The Committee recommends that the scope of research should be widened for all paintings and drawings and for those objects for which the information obtained from the Netherlands Art Property Foundation archives justifies further action. In order to supplement information already found, research should be widened to include other sources of information which pilot research suggests might be relevant, particularly the documentation files of the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD), including auction catalogues and other printed sources. Where evidence seems to indicate it might be worthwhile, sources elsewhere should also be consulted, such as various files at the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (RIOD) and housed in government archives, and the archives still available at art dealers and auction houses.
3. The Committee recommends that a summary is made of the works of art restored to their rightful owners by the Netherlands Art Property Foundation and its legal successors.
4. In relation to the research carried out by various committees with regard to legal restitution and related issues, the Committee recommends that attention also be paid to the legal framework and the working methods of the Netherlands Art Property Foundation. The activities of the Netherlands Art Property Foundation should be seen in the light of more general legislation with regard to legal restitution. Attention should be paid to such aspects as the formulation and application of concepts such as voluntary sale, forced sale, confiscation and looting and also to the way in which works of art were restored to their owners. In this respect, the Committee strongly recommends looking into the possibilities which existed for the restitution of works of art which changed hands due to force of circumstances but which were not shipped off to Germany.
5. It is essential that an active investigation takes place in all cases where new facts emerge from the recommended research which suggest that third parties have rights of ownership to works of art from the Netherlands Art Property collection or where additional information comes to light regarding earlier claims rejected on the basis of the information then available. Such active investigation should also include the tracing of possible rightful owners. Research of this kind should take place as soon as there are indications to this effect and should not wait until completion of the investigations recommended in the previous sections.
Recommendations for the Restitution of Works of Art, Ekkart Committee, April 2001
1. The committee recommends that the notion of "settled cases" be restricted to those cases in which the Council for the Restoration of Property Rights or another competent court has pronounced judgment or in which a formal settlement was made between the lawful owners and the bodies which in hierarchy rank above the SNK.
2. The committee recommends that the notion of new facts be given a broader interpretation than has been the usual policy so far and that the notion be extended to include any differences compared to judgments pronounced by the Council for the Restoration of Property Rights as well as the results of changed (historic) views of justice and the consequences of the policy conducted at the time.
3. The Committee recommends that sales of works of art by Jewish private persons in the Netherlands from 10 May 1940 onwards be treated as forced sales, unless there is express evidence to the contrary. The same principle should be applied in respect of sales by Jewish private persons in Germany and Austria from 1933 and 1938 onwards, respectively.
4. The Committee recommends that the sales proceeds be brought into the discussion only if and to the extent that the then seller or his heirs actually obtained the free disposal of said proceeds.
5. The Committee recommends that for the purposes of applying this rule the rightful claimants be given the benefit of the doubt whenever it is uncertain whether the seller actually enjoyed the proceeds.
6. The Committee recommends that whenever it is necessary to couple a restitution to the partial or full repayment of the sales proceeds, the amount involved be indexed in accordance with the general price-index figure.
7. The Committee recommends that the authorities, when restituting works of art, refrain from passing on the administration costs fixed by the SNK at the time.
8. The Committee recommends that a work of art be restituted if the title thereto has been proved with a high degree of probability and there are no indications of the contrary.
9. The Committee recommends that owners who did not use an earlier opportunity of repurchasing works of art be reafforded such opportunity, at any rate insofar as the works of art do not qualify for restitution without any financial compensation according to other applicable criterions.
Origins Unknown (Herkomst Gezocht)
Prins Willem Alexanderhof 20
NL 2595 BE's Gravenhage
Tel: +31 (0)70 3717200
Fax: +31 (0)70 3852958
Ekkart Committee, Recommendations, April 1998. Herkomst Gezocht (Origins Unknown) website
<http://www.herkomstgezocht.nl/eng/rapportage/content.html#recom>, accessed on 28 November 2002
Ekkart Committee, Recommendations for the restitution of works of art, April 2001. Herkomst Gezocht (Origins Unknown) website
<http://www.herkomstgezocht.nl/eng/rapportage/content.html#aanbevkorten>, accessed on 28 November 2002