Meet Christiaan Ruppert

Interview with Christiaan Ruppert, member of the supervisory committee for provenance research and legal historian.

Fot van Christiaan Ruppert met blauw pak
Image: Ruben Schipper
Christiaan Ruppert

"As a historian, I have addressed the issue of Jewish assets from the Second World War at various times over the past 25 years. That also encompasses artworks. I spent the last few years undertaking research in the archives of the Netherlands Property Administration Institute (NBI). That was the main institute dealing with the post-war restoration of rights, and it was also concerned with the management and administration of the assets of Jews who had been killed. Their personal files have been publicly available since 1 January 2018. I examined 600 administration records of 'Jewish absentee owners’, and that study was highly instructive in terms of the practice of the restoration of rights."

"I hope that my knowledge of the archives will help not only to advance, but also significantly accelerate the pace of provenance research efforts. The situation of the past 15 years, whereby little capacity was freed up for those endeavours, has fortunately now been addressed. I also suspect that the newly-released archives combined with digitisation will make it easier to find works of art and track down owners. The sources can be linked more quickly. Finally, I believe that information may be hidden in archives that have never previously been searched. I see the work in the coming years as a final attempt to do justice to rights holders."


Christiaan Ruppert was Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm's right-hand man on matters concerning Jewish war assets between 1997 and 2001. During those years, various investigative committees were set up with the task of investigating the looting and restitution of Jewish assets. Ruppert was involved in the investigative committees chaired by Van Kemenade, Scholten and Kordes. In late 1998, he was part of the Dutch delegation to the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets. There, the Netherlands committed to the Washington Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art. He also briefly served as an official observer in the very first Ekkart committee, which established the field of provenance research. His subsequent work included supervising an investigation, at the request of the Jewish community, into what had happened to the assets of Jewish orphans after the end of the war.

After 2001, Ruppert held a variety of positions within the Senior Civil Service. In 2017, he defended his dissertation entitled Eindelijk ‘Restitutie’. De totstandkoming van Nederlandse akkoorden over Joodse oorlogstegoeden (1997-2000). (Finally ‘Restitution’. The establishment of Dutch agreements on Jewish war assets (1997-2000).

After retiring, he became a fellow at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement, where he publishes on collective compensation schemes and redress.

Supervisory committee for provenance research

There is an independent committee which oversees the provenance research. This committee monitors the quality of past and future research and assesses whether it meets the standard required in order to determine the provenance of objects from the NK collection as accurately as possible. The committee checks whether the right steps are being taken and the right archives are consulted during the research. 

The committee consists of Prof. Dr Rudi Ekkart (chair), Henrike Hövelmann MA, Dr Christiaan Ruppert and Dr Gerdien Verschoor.