A probe by Dutch museums revealed today (Tuesday) that 139 pieces of art may possibly be among property taken from Jews by Nazi invaders during World War II, according to the Netherlands Museum Association.
Over 40 Dutch museums participated in the probe, which examined art acquisitions between 1933 and 1945 with unclear or "problematic" histories. The findings consist of 69 paintings, two sculptures, 31 decorative art objects, 13 pieces of Judaica and 24 drawings.
The probe was launched to coincide with the opening of a website, the Museale Verwervingen, which aims to complete the artworks' history by reaching out for missing information.
"The Museum Acquisitions research from 1933 gets to the heart of what museums do: studying their collections and telling the story to the public," said the project's director, Siebe Weide. Names of the original owners have been attributed to 61 objects, the association said, assuring that "where possible, the museum will try to make contact with relatives or heirs of the original owners."
The effort follows other national efforts by European nations to return the art stolen during the Holocaust to the families of their original owners.
A partial list has just been released of the suspected stolen artworks. At the Stedelijk, Amsterdam's main modern art museum, 16 suspected works were found, including Matisse and Kadinsky's "Painting with Houses"; Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum has 9 works, including a 17th-century silver salt cellar by Johannes Lutma; and at least 19 questionable artworks at the Hague's main museum, the Gemeentemuseum. A spokesman stressed that the focus was not on the suspected value of the artworks, but in returning them to their rightful owners.