A court in Rotterdam has ruled that the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum can keep disputed art worth millions of euros, the NRC reports.
The decision comes after 20 years of legal wrangling over 600 drawings by old masters, including Rembrandt, Lucas van Leyden and Hendrick Avercamp. Their ownership is disputed by the heirs of the former owner, collector Franz Koenigs. They say Koenigs, who died in 1941, loaned the works to the museum in 1935.
The museum, however, says the drawings formed part of an earlier loan of works by the German businessman, which were bought by the Rotterdam shipping magnate D.G. van Beuningen in 1940. Van Beuningen later gave part of the collection to the museum that bears his name, the paper writes.
The judge backed the museum’s version of events and decided that the fact that the loan was not properly entered into the museum’s books was not a decisive factor in the case, the paper writes.
The heirs have announced they will appeal against the decision.
War time role
The case once again highlighted the doubtful role Van Beuningen played during the war, the paper says
The shipping magnate covertly sold part of the Koenigs collection and other art works to Hitler during the German occupation. According to lawyers, this makes Van Beuningen, who was never prosecuted for his deeds, a collaborator with the Nazi regime, the NRC said in an earlier article.
According to Sjarel Ex, the director of the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum, the sale of 500 drawings and 19 paintings to fill the walls of Hitler’s Führer museum should be classified as an ‘economic misdemeanour’ rather than ‘economic collaboration’ which was punishable by law.
Economist and publicist Arnold Heertje and Israel information and documentation centre CIDI director Ronny Naftaniel have been calling for a removal of the name Van Beuningen.
The museum is preparing an exhibition on the war time history of the museum which will open in October of next year.
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