Significant Restitutions

2006 – Beautiful van Ruysdael among the 200 works of art returned by the Dutch Government to Goudstikker’s heirs

In February 2006, after years of pressing restitution claims, the Dutch government finally returned over 200 pictures to the heirs of Jacques Goudstikker, one of Amsterdam’s leading Old Master art dealer and connoisseur before and during World War II. This beautiful oil on panel by Salomon van Ruysdael, titled Ferry Boat with cattle on the River Vecht near Nijenrode, was just one of them.

In 1940, with the Nazi Germany occupation of the Netherlands, Jacques Goudstikker and his family were forced to flee their country, leaving behind all of their belongings including 1,400 works of art. However, what Goudstikker did bring with him was a black notebook that meticulously recorded over 1,000 of his paintings. This notebook has proved essential in the search for his lost stock decades later. Goudstikker’s collection was looted by Reichmarschall Hermann Göring and brought back to Germany. At the end of the war, about 280 of Goudstikker’s paintings were returned by the Allies to the Dutch authorities; however, they did not return them to the family as expected, but rather incorporated them into the Dutch national collection.

The legal battle to return these paintings to Marei von Saher, the widow of Edouard (“Edo”), the only son of Desirée (“Desi”) and Jacques Goudstikker started in 1998 and lasted eight years. At last, the Dutch government, advised by its Restitution Committee, resolved the claim by restituting the work to Von Saher. Over 100 of the 200 works returned to the heirs of Jacques Goudstikker were offered for sale through Christie’s in New York, London and Amsterdam in 2007. Van Ruysdael’s Ferry Boat with cattle on the River Vecht near Nijenrodewas sold by Christie’s in New York on April 19, 2007 for approximately $2.3 million dollars.