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Rijksmuseum wins lawsuit over painting donation

The Rijksmuseum has won the right to keep a painting donated by an 81-year-old woman in 2013 in a lawsuit with the donor’s children. The plaintiffs argued that their mother had sold the painting to them before donating it to the museum, and that she was not in her right mind when she made the donation, according to Het Parool.

The painting in question is “Composition” by Bart van der Leck. It was given to the donor, who was an art collector, in 1956 as a wedding gift from her parents. She gifted the painting to the Rijksmuseum in 2013 in tribute to her father, where it has been hanging since October of that year.

However, her sons went to court in 2020 saying their mother had sold them the painting in 2003 and it was rightfully theirs. They also claimed she was mentally unwell at the time of the donation and saw the gift to the museum as a “sacrifice” to save her ill granddaughter’s life. The woman had previously warned the museum that her sons disagreed with the donation and a deed was drawn up, according to documents from the case. 

The Rijksmuseum argued that, due to the passage of time and no previous knowledge that the painting had been sold, it should get to keep the painting. The judge ruled in the museum’s favor, deciding that the museum obtained the painting in lawfully and in good faith. The work will continue to hang in the museum.

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