Deadline to claim looted works of art looms in Netherlands

Monsters and 3 April 2007

The Hague (DPA) - The deadline for making claims to looted works of art now in state ownership expires Wednesday in the Netherlands.

According to the generous return policy of the past years, legally concluded cases could be presented again.

The expiry of the deadline marks the end of research into the origins of works in the Dutch state collection.

This includes works of art seized from almost exclusively Jewish owners during the Nazi occupation, but which were returned to the Netherlands after the war.

The most sensational was the return of the Goudstikker collection to the heirs of Jewish art dealers last year.

An independent commission investigating the former return policy criticized it as 'formalistic, bureaucratic, cool and even heartless.'

Based on the commission's recommendations in April 2005, the government offered the opportunity of making claims to works in the Dutch state collection.

A group of independent experts decides whether these claims are justified. By mid March, 59 claims had been presented to it and recommendations in 35 cases have already been made.
In recent years, the commission has also been examining the origins of the 4,700 works in the Dutch state collection which includes furniture and paintings.

The original owners were determined in 500 cases, but in most cases, the origins of the art works could not be retraced despite public exhibitions.

The deadline for making claims is not without controversy. The head of the commission, Ruddi Ekkart, expects problems, according to the daily de Volkskrant Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Culture told the daily that the hitherto generous policy would not be dispensed with, if new cases emerge.
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