Boijmans Foundation and Rotterdam museum disagree over war loot issue

The Boijman’s van Beuningen museum wants to return a looted Toorop


A war loot dispute has arisen between the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum and the Boijmans Foundation, which owns approx £1 billion worth of art on long-term loan to the Rotterdam museum. Among the Foundation’s collection is a drawing by Jan Toorop, “Faith in God”, which was looted by the Nazis. It had been owned by German banker Mr Eberstadt, who fled to the Netherlands in 1937. The drawing later passed through The Hague dealer d’Autrech before it was bought by two Rotterdam businessmen, who donated it to the Boijmans Foundation in 1942. Eberstadt’s grandson, Walter, a New York banker, is claiming the drawing (now worth $18,000) and the Rotterdam museum accepts his moral right to the work and would like it returned. However, the Boijmans Foundation argues that it acquired the drawing legally, and it does not feel under a moral obligation to make restitution.

In May museum director Chris Dercon formally asked the Foundation to either return the drawing to the Eberstadt family or remove it from the museum’s premises, where it is kept in the drawings collection. Mr Dercon points out that the museum is owned by the Rotterdam municipality, whereas the Foundation is a private body. Following a meeting of the Foundation on 28 May, it was decided that an independent expert would be appointed to advise on the situation. Foundation chairman J. van Kaldenborgh told The Art Newspaper: “Although we understand what happened to the Jewish people, we are legally the rightful owner of the drawing. Our Foundation is sincere and we have deliberated long and hard.”

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Foundation and museum disagree over war loot issue'