Monday, September 18, 2023 - 12:30pm to 2:00pm
FL219 Donegan Conference Centre: John Willis Classroom or virtual

Restitution Law: The Lewenstein Case

On September 18th, join the Mondex Corporation’s James Palmer, Waldemar de Boer, Dr. Axel Hagedorn, Michael Hecker and Geri Krauss for an in-depth discussion on restitution law, the restitution process and the ground-breaking Lewenstein Case.

Case Summary:

The art collection of the Lewenstein family was developed by Emanuel Albert Lewenstein (1870-1930), a business man who lived in The Netherlands and who was the owner of a successful sewing machine company. Emanuel was passionate about art and used his family’s earnings to collect paintings, drawings and prints, mostly by Dutch contemporary artists, and also to acquire two ground-breaking paintings by Wassily Kandinsky: Das Bunte Leben (1907) and Bild mit Häusern (1909). The collection was lost due to Nazi persecution in WWII. On October 8th-9th, 1940, while The Netherlands was occupied by the Nazis, the collection, including the two Kandinsky’s was offered for sale at the most important auction house in Amsterdam at that time, the Frederik Muller & Co, which was also notoriously known for organizing sales of looted artworks during the war. It remains unknown as to who brought the Lewenstein art collection to the auction, and received the proceeds, but it has been concluded that the sale was certainly not voluntary. The painting Bild mit Häusern was acquired by the City of Amsterdam, for their Stedelijk Museum (city museum). Das Bunte Leben was sold to the art collector Salomon Slijper. After Slijper’s death in 1971, his widow sold it to the Bayerische Landesbank in Germany. The bank bought the painting on behalf of the Lenbachhaus museum in Munich. Both of these paintings were sold for a fraction of their value.

In 2012, the heirs of the Lewenstein collection, with help of Mondex Corporation in Toronto, Canada, established the whereabouts of the two Kandinsky paintings and began restitution proceedings against the City of Amsterdam in The Netherlands and the Bayerische Landesbank in Germany (A Bavarian government owned bank). Even though both Kandinsky paintings were eventually restituted, the claims took a decade before decisions in favour of restitution were reached, due to various complex research, legal, political and other obstacles. During the lecture, the details of the restitution processes will be examined.

For panelist bios and to register visit the Eventbrite page,

This event is available virtually and open to all students and U of T Law alumni. 

For more information, contact Devorah Lindsay, Alumni Officer at: