The 139 drawings and 3 prints include work by prominent German masters such as Hans Holbein the Younger, Altdorfer and Hirschvogel. This was announced today by the Dutch government.
The works concerned had been missing since the Second World War. Not until a few years ago was it revealed that they were being kept in Kiev. Prime Minister Balkenende of the Netherlands seems to have reached an agreement about their return at a meeting with President Kuchma of Ukraine in New York last September. The government of Ukraine officially recognizes Dutch ownership of the sheets. It confirmed this in writing last month.
The drawings and prints will come to the Netherlands in July, when President Kuchma will open an exhibition in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. The Boijmans has owned a large part of the Koenigs collection since 1935. The complete collection consisted of 2,671 drawings and prints. The drawings [from Ukraine] will become property of the Dutch state and will be given on loan to the Boijmans. The drawings are still in their old mounts and are kept in their original black boxes, bearing the red seals of [the then] Museum Boymans. Before the return of the drawings and prints they will be put on display in Ukraine starting next Monday.
The drawings once belonged to Franz Koenigs. During the war they became the property of the harbor magnate van Beuningen and then came into the hands of the German occupying forces. After the war they were removed as booty by the Soviet Union. 143 works of art ended up in Kiev in 1947, where they were forgotten. Now that they have been found, 486 sheets have been located of the 528 that went missing in the war. Of these, 307 are in Moscow, but Russia refuses to return them. Descendants of Franz Koenigs, it must be said, claim that they are the rightful owner of the drawings and prints."