Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Heirs Awarded Nazi-Looted Art Are Still Waiting, 17 Years Later

ArtIn 2007, a Dutch panel ruled to return a 17th-century painting, "Unloading the Hay Wagon," to a Jewish family that was looted during World War II. However, administrative errors and missing documents have delayed the restitution process. The painting, once owned by an elderly British-Jewish couple, was seized by Nazis and ended up in the Netherlands after the war. Despite recommendations for return in 2007, the family still awaits its restitution.

An Amsterdam notary, Maarten R. Meijer, is tasked with verifying ownership and facilitating the return but needs more necessary documents from the heirs. The process has been improved by needing more paperwork and bureaucratic hurdles. While the Dutch government aims to return looted art to rightful heirs, stringent requirements prolong the process.

Frustration mounts for the family and officials involved as the painting remains in storage. The case highlights challenges in reclaiming Nazi-looted art, with experts emphasizing the need for streamlined procedures and support for heirs navigating complex documentation. Despite hopes for resolution, uncertainties persist, leaving the last surviving relative who remembers the painting before the war, now 95, uncertain if they will ever see it returned.

For more information see Nina Siegal “Heirs Awarded Nazi-Looted Art Are Still Waiting, 17 Years Later”, The New York Times, March 13, 2024.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention. 


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