By Marlise Simons
Just as the Dutch government was moving to discourage new claims for restitution of art looted during World War II, the heirs of a Dutch Jewish art dealer have filed one of the largest claims to date for paintings now held in Dutch museums.
Four heirs of the dealer, Nathan Katz, who died in 1949, say that he was the rightful owner of more than 200 artworks recovered in Germany at the end of the war and handed over to the Dutch government. The claimants are Mr. Katz’s four children: Sybilla Goldstein-Katz, who lives in Florida; her brother, David; and her sisters Margaret and Eva, who all live in Europe.
The details of the restitution claim have not been made public, but Dutch museum directors say the works in question include paintings by 17th-century Dutch masters, among them Jan Steen, Gerard Dou and Nicolaas Maes. Some works are by Flemish and Italian artists. Many are centerpieces of major museums in the Netherlands, including the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Mauritshuis in The Hague and the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem.
The Dutch Ministry of Culture said the claim was filed in March for 227 items — 225 paintings and 2 tapestries — but Bob van het Klooster, a spokesman, declined to provide further details. The matter became publicly known only on Friday when museum directors were notified of the claim.