This subpage will focus on how the Zwaneveld collection was acquired and embezzled, only to reemerge again with the secondary sales by Cor van L.
The Zwanevelds were a wealthy family associated with the gambling business, owning approximately 120 slot machines in Groningen. They were friends with a couple named ‘J.’ Frans J. was helping the Zwaneveld family with their car museum and was a board member of the Zwaneveld foundation.
At the beginning of the 1990s, the Zwanevelds bought a large number of The Plough works directly from Van L. and another art dealer named Eg Dokter. These sales amounted to a collection of 550 The Plough paintings total, of which at least 80% would later be proven fake. The Zwanevelds’ newfound art endeavor resulted in the opening of an art gallery called ‘De Zwaan’. As Dees Zwaneveld wasn’t professionally qualified to do so, Van L. became responsible for running the gallery and sold work under his own name, as well as forged The Plough works. During this time, Van L. and his wife had full access to the gallery.
In the period 1991-1992, three auctions were held at De Zwaan. That these auctions were somewhat dubious is shown by the notaries withdrawing their support for the auctions in May 1992. The reason for this was that Van L. bought two paintings by Dijkstra as well as two by Wiegers. The way these transactions transpired led to distrust among the notaries, which led to the withdrawal of their support.
Soon after these events, in early 1994, the gallery would close its doors.
In 1995 the Zwaneveld imperium and wealth came to a sudden end when the Customs Office Groningen not only taxed their company with ƒ 21 million, but also taxed the family privately with ƒ 1.7 million. What’s more, the taxes the company owed doubled when the family didn’t pay within the required period of time. As partial payment, the painting collection of the Zwanevelds was confiscated by the customs office on the 19th of April, 1995. An estimation of the collection’s value took place, which was performed by Renée Smithuis, who later stated that all Altink paintings (80), as well as all Dijkstra paintings (112), were fakes, most likely made by Van L. Important to note here is that, before the confiscation, Dees Zwaneveld had all the paintings photographed by an old police photographer.
After the Customs Office finished their investigation, the collection was returned not to the Zwanevelds, but to Anna J. After being returned, the collection suddenly disappeared, and the Zwaneveld family sued the couple J. for charges of embezzlement (See Court Proceedings).
During Johan Meijering’s research for his civil case, he – by happenstance – came in possession of the aforementioned photo archive of the Zwaneveld collection. To his great surprise, he discovered that multiple works he bought from Van L. had belonged to the Zwaneveld collection. Continuing his research, he traced back 30 paintings that had been in the Zwaneveld collection, but had been resold by Van L. It is not known how, but somehow Van L. seemed to have managed to regain possession of the alleged forgeries he sold to the Zwanevelds, and was able to resell them to new victims. The exact location of the other 520 artworks continues to be a mystery, but it is likely that Van L. sold many to several other smaller collectors. The entire Zwaneveld collection can be found in the Gallery.
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