Tourists view a disputed Wassily Kandinsky painting at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, July 10, 2019. (Cnaan Liphshiz)
AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Following a protracted legal fight, the family of Irma Klein last year finally got Dutch restitution officials to recognize that the Nazi occupation forced Klein to sell her Wassily Kandinsky painting to this city’s municipal Stedelijk Museum for a fraction of its worth.
That was in 1940, several months into the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, when Klein and her husband sold “Painting with Houses” for the modern-day equivalent of about $1,600 because they needed money to survive the Holocaust.
In its ruling last November, the Dutch Restitutions Committee accepted the family’s account.
But in an unusual and controversial departure from universal practices, the committee also determined that the painting should not be returned to the family. It cited “public interest” in keeping the work on display at the Stedelijk, among other arguments.
It was the latest of several such refusals by the Netherlands based on what the Dutch Restitutions Committee introduced in 2013 as a “weighted interest” approach to looted art.