Flanders allocates funds to track down looted art next year

Flanders is allocating funds next year to investigate so-called DER works. At the Department for Economic Recovery (DER), Belgians in the 1940s could declare goods that disappeared during World War II, said Culture minister Jan Jambon in the Flemish Parliament on Thursday. Jambon was questioned about journalist Geert Sels' investigation into Nazi art theft in Belgium.

"Regarding Jewish looted art, my priority now is to allocate the necessary resources next year to carry out the promised further investigation into the DER works in Flemish collections," Jambon said. "At the moment, there are no claims and also no requests made or pending for the return of Jewish looted art kept in Flemish museums. I understand from the series of articles by Geert Sels in De Standaard that several requests may be pending. I am confident that the Flemish museums and their furnishing powers will consider any applications in all serenity and sincerity."

There is also a focus on art from the former colony. "Earlier this year, the Museum aan de Stroom (MAS) submitted a project application to thoroughly reconstruct the provenance histories of the museum's Congolese collection," Jambon said. "As you know, the MAS manages the main publicly owned colonial collection in Flanders."

Private collections will not be part of the investigation. "I think international action on private collections is rare anyway," the minister said. "I think that is also extremely difficult. I think as a government it's best we first already make sure we have put our public collections in order. So for the time being, I have no intentions of looking at private collections."


#FlandersNewsService | Flemish minister president and Culture minister Jan Jambon. © BELGA PHOTO DIRK WAEM

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