Commitment to the Art Trade

The auction trade is a fast business. It usually takes only a few weeks from consignment to sale. Nevertheless, professionalism and detailed research are the top priority. Above all, the provenance needs to be well investigated, because artworks still appear whose provenance during the Third Reich has not been clarified. During the Nazi regime, numerous Jewish art owners were expropriated. Many collections were destroyed in this way and family heirlooms were stolen. We as an auction house are always aware of the high responsibility in our mediating role. VAN HAM therefore sets the highest standards for scholarly research and the mediation of restitution.

Successful Restitutions at VAN HAM

Dr. Barbara Haubold

Our representative in Munich, is responsible for the provenance research at VAN HAM Fine Art Auctioneers.

She is a member of the Arbeitskreis Provenienzforschung (Working Group Provenance Research) and was responsible, among other things, for the processing of the Salzburg find of the Gurlitt Collection.


During the Nazi regime, many Jewish art lovers and dealers were expropriated; their art confiscated or stolen directly by the Nazis. Entire collections were torn apart. Today, it is often difficult to determine where these objects have ended up or if they even still exist. In recent years the public has focused its attention on VAN HAM, due to their success in initiating the restitution and compensation for looted art- cultural objects- during the Nazi era and returning these to their rightful Jewish owners.

As soon as a work of art indicates signs of a problematic or questionable nature, VAN HAM begins their extensive research in conjunction with other well-known institutions such as; the Art Loss Register in London, the Lost Type Co-ordination Unit in Magdeburg and the Holocaust Claims Processing Office in New York, where lost, stolen or missing art has been documented.

In recent years several exceptional works of art believed to been 'lost' were successfully restituted and came up for auction, including paintings from the legendary collections of Ismar Littmann, the famous Amsterdam art dealer, Jacques Goudstikker, Max Stern, Alfred Hess, Emma Budge or from the Nardus Collection.

"On behalf of the Matheus family, I applaud your careful examination of the provenance of the artworks consigned to your house and your commitment to reaching a fair and equitable resolution with the Waffenschmidt estate."

- Dr. Imke Gielen, Office of Trott zu Solz Lammek, 2018

"I am very pleased that we have achieved this result together and, like the David family, I greatly appreciate your commitment."

- Anne Webber, Commission for Looted Art in Europe, 2018

"It is not the first time that the Cologne auctioneer has shown tact in restitution matters."

- Handelsblatt, 18. Mai 2014

"Sharing with Dignity."

- Spiegel, 2009

"In the negotiations [...] Van Ham took on the central role of mediator. Never before have we received such a firm response from the German art market when it came to looted art."

- Clarence Epstein, Concordia University

"Eisenbeis' impeccable approach [...] is not the only one his house will have to measure itself against in future cases."

- Süddeutsche Zeitung, 14. Februar 2009


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