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Nine-Year Litigation for Painting by Kandinsky Came to Its End

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Amsterdam City Council has put an unexpected end to the nine-year legal battle that has shaken the international art world. The municipality decided to unilaterally return Wassily Kandinsky's Landscape
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with Houses (1909) to the family of its former Jewish owners. The canvas is estimated at 20 million euros.
Nine-Year Litigation for Painting by Kandinsky Came to Its End
The Council took a decision contrary to the verdict of the Dutch Restitution Commission. The latter ruled in 2018 that the Stedelijk Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art could keep the work, since it was "bought in good faith" in October 1940 and has "important historical value". In 2020, the decision of the commission was confirmed by the court in Amsterdam.

The plaintiffs (whose names have not been announced publicly) stated that the pre-war owners of the Landscape
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with Houses, Robert Loewenstein and his wife Irma Klein, were forced to sell it "under duress" because their garment factory in Amsterdam could no longer operate under the occupation. The applicants' lawyers pointed out that the 160 guilders that Stedelijk paid for the painting at the auction was only 30 percent of the original price for which the owners purchased it in 1923.
They also noted that the World Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany found the painting stolen.
The case became a test for the moral authority of the restitution commission, which was set up to consider claims for works of art confiscated by the Nazis. And the court ruling, instead of ending the argument, opened a new chapter in the controversial story of the Landscape
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with Houses.

The plaintiffs' spokesman called the verdict "a repeated robbery", explaining that "the first was committed by the Nazis, and the second by the restitution commission in conjunction with the city court of Amsterdam".
A number of influential politicians sided with the former owners. They pointed out that it was unacceptable to take into account the interests of museums when returning stolen art and that the preservation of works of art on the basis of their cultural value no longer meets the expectations of society. After that, two members of the restitution commission resigned.

The way things were shaping, court was about to re-examine the case, and the mayor of Amsterdam Femke Halsema decided to cut this knot. She stated that the work would be returned immediately "in the interest of correcting mistakes".
Based on materials of The Irish Times