During the Second World War, many works of art and cultural goods were left behind, robbed or stolen from public and private property. This led to the emergence of a large art trade, especially in Western and Central Europe and therefore also in Belgium. A large number of cultural goods were traced after the Second World War, recovered and returned to their rightful owners. However, the provenance of all the cultural goods found was not equally clear. After the years of occupation and liberation some of these cultural goods ended up in public collections or in private hands.

At the Washington Conference in 1998, Belgium endorsed the principles regarding looted and lost cultural goods. The museums and cultural institutions cooperated with the Jewish Goods Study Committee and the Compensation Committee to clarify the origin of these cultural goods. These were works of art that may have been the subject of national-socialist robbery or purchases, as well as post-war restitution in and through Belgium.

The research took several years. After these surveys and from the point of view of transparency, it was decided to enter the works of art with an unidentified provenance or with an incomplete provenance in a database in order to obtain more information about the acquisition history. This database mainly focuses on paintings and sculptures that ended up in museum collections after the Second World War. This research is a close collaboration between the Communities, the federal government and the institutions and museums involved.

Monogrammist D.R., late 16th century, 'Carrying the Cross',…
Monogrammist D.R., late 16th century, 'Carrying the Cross', 1951, Collection MSK Gent - Collection Flemish Community

This work was sold by the art dealer (gallery) Louis Manteau in Brussels on 29 August 1942 to Kajetan Mühlmann. It was resold for 14,000 RM to Hermann Göring. The art collection was transferred from Carinhall to Berchtesgaden in 1945 and recovered by the American Monuments, Fine Arts & Archives division in Berchtesgaden in 1945 (Berchtesgaden no. 143). It was then transferred to the Munich Collection Point (Munich no. 5181, frame no. 6576), returned to Belgium (Economic Recuperation Department no. A.258) and handed over in 1952 to the Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent.

After Pieter II Brueghel, 'Village Lawyer', 1621, Collectio…
After Pieter II Brueghel, 'Village Lawyer', 1621, Collection MSK Gent - Collection Flemish Community

This work comes from an unknown Belgian collector. It was sold by an auction house at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels on 2 May 1941. It was recovered by the Economic Recuperation Service (Dienst Economische Recuperatie (DER)) in the British zone (DER no. B.49) on 4 July 1948 and handed over to the Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent in 1952.

Pieter de Bloot, 'Landscape with a farmhouse', Collection M…
Pieter de Bloot, 'Landscape with a farmhouse', Collection MSK Gent - Collection Flemish Community

Art collector Pieter Smidt van Gelder sold this work in Antwerp to Kajetan Mühlmann. It was resold to A. Hitler for the Linz collection; this collection was housed in the salt mines of Alt-Aussee (Aussee-nr. 2926) and recovered by the American Monuments, Fine Arts & Archives division in 1945 (Linznr. 1426). It was then transferred to the Munich Collection Point (Munich No. 4277) and returned to Belgium (Economic Recuperation Department No. A.62). In 1952 the work was handed over to the Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent.

Gillis I Mostaert, 'Feast of St. George', Collection MSK Ge…
Gillis I Mostaert, 'Feast of St. George', Collection MSK Gent - Collection Flemish Community

This work was purchased in Belgium during the war years by the Museum für Kunst und Geschichte, Lübeck and recovered by the Economic Recuperation Service (DER) in the British zone (DER no. B.43) on 4 July 1948. In 1952 it was handed over to the Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent.