CLAE Press Release: Holland returns 233 Nazi looted art works

London 18 April 2002: The Dutch Secretary of State for Culture announced today the return of 233 works of art looted from the Gutmann family during the war and which have been in the possession of the Dutch government since the late 1940s. The London-based Commission for Looted Art in Europe (CLAE) represents the 82 year old daughter of Mr F B E Gutmann of Heemstede, Holland, who was murdered by the Nazis for his renowned art collection.

CLAE has been negotiating with the Dutch authorities on behalf of the family since early 2000. In summer 2001 CLAE persuaded the Dutch Ministry of Culture to establish an independent committee to deal with outstanding cases. There are currently still over 4,000 looted works of art in Dutch public collections which were returned by the Allies to the Netherlands after the war for the purpose of restitution, and which remain in state hands.The Gutmann case is the first to be heard by the newly established Polak Committee, whose recommendation to the Dutch government was that all works of art involved in this case be restituted to the heirs forthwith. The works of art include many personal objects such as plates and glasses used by the family, as well as furniture and paintings.

Anne Webber, co-chair of CLAE, said today, "We are delighted that justice has finally been achieved in this case. It has been a very long and painful struggle for the family. The Polak Committee has provided hope for all those other families whose property remains in Dutch custody". Mr F B E Gutmann's son, Bernard Goodman, was a British citizen who died in 1994 after 50 years seeking the return of his father's possessions. His son, Nick Goodman, who took over his father's quest, expressed his delight at the decision, and his thanks for the help of the Commission. "This is a satisfying day for our family. Although nothing can undo the awful events of World War 11, at least some closure has been reached. I now look forward to the day when some of my grandparents' art will hang on my walls."

Images of some of the Gutmann works of art being returned to the family can be found on the Dutch government's 'Origins Unknown' website. Those items being returned are numbered NK 3135 and after.

Issue date: 18th April 2002

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