Kandinsky painting handed back to rightful heirs is sold for €60 million

The painting when it hung in the Stedelijk. Photo: S Boztas
The painting when it hung in the Stedelijk. Photo: S Boztas

A painting by Wassily Kandinsky which was returned by city of Amsterdam to the heirs of its original Jewish owners last year has been sold at auction for €60 million, the NRC reported on Thursday.

Bild mit Häusern had hung in the city’s Stedelijk museum after being acquired at auction in 1940 for 160 guilders. The painting was part of a rich collection of art owned by the Lewenstein family.

The legal battle for the work began in 2012 years ago after an investigation into its origins by the state restitution committee. In the meantime, two separate court rulings said that the city did not have to return the painting to the family.

However, city mayor Femke Halsema said in 2021 she was not prepared to wait for the outcome of a re-evaluation by the restitution committee in the light of new guidelines and would return it to the family. The handover took place in March 2022.

James Palmer of the Mondex Corporation which tracked down the work on behalf of the family told the Parool at the time the heirs hoped the painting would end up in a new museum.

Sources have told the NRC, however, that work was sold by a ‘large auction house’ to a private collector for over €60 million. That makes it the most valuable piece of looted art in the Netherlands ever returned to its owners, the paper said.

Some of the money will go to Mondex, which is specialised in the return of looted art, the paper said.

Another disputed Kandinsky, which hung in the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven before being returned to the heirs of its original owner, will go under the hammer at Sotheby’s in March, the Art Newspaper reported earlier this month. Murnau mit Kirche II is expected to sell for over €45 million.

Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl.

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation