Report urges action to protect cultural heritage from foreign buyers

Photo: Sotheby's
Rubens’ drawing of a young man Photo: Sotheby’s

More should be done to prevent privately owned Dutch art from being sold to foreign buyers, an independent commission has said.

The commission headed by former D66 leader Alexander Pechtold, was briefed to investigate the rules surrounding the sale of works of art abroad after the recently deceased princess Christina sold a drawing by Peter Paul Rubens at Sotheby’s in New York for over €6m, broadcaster NOS reported.

In the Netherlands artworks considered part of Dutch cultural heritage are placed on a list that means the culture ministry has to authorise the sale.

In the event, culture minister Ingrid van Engelshoven, despite protests from many museum directors, refused to put the work on the list but did increase the budget for purchases of artworks by museums.

The report, which was handed over to the minister on Monday, recommends enlarging the list, based on a clear vision by independent experts of what constitutes Dutch cultural heritage. The composition of the list should no longer be decided by ‘hobby and lobby’, the report said.

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