National art collection ordered to return two works to Jewish owners

A government committee looking into the origins of works of art taken by the Nazis during World War II has recommended two sculptures in the national art collection be returned to the heirs of their original Jewish owners.

The national Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has been ordered to return a bronze statue of Hercules to the heirs of the German art trading couple Jakob and Rosa Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer had been forced to sell the statue at auction by the Nazis in 1935 when his business was liquidated.
It was donated to the Rijksmuseum three years later.


The Catharijne convent museum in Utrecht has also been told to return a 15th century wooden Pieta to its rightful Jewish owners.
Banker and art collector Fritz Gutmann gave the carving to an art dealership in Paris for safekeeping in 1939. There, the object was seized by the Germans, after which it became part of Hermann Göring’s art collection.
In 1945 it was found on a train along with other works of art by American soldiers and ended up as part of the Dutch national art collection.
Culture minister Halbe Zijlstra has accepted the committee’s recommendations.

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