The Assen Court case would be the start of the long legal procedure that would become known as the Altink II Affair. On this page, a closer look will be taken at the legal proceedings and the courts’ judgment. Especially focusing on the quite extensive and complicated way this case progressed.
As said, the procedure was initiated on the 30th of January 2003. However, the procedure would not truly commence before the start of 2005 when the Van L. couple was subpoenaed to appear before the Assen Court. At the start of the procedure, a settlement was attempted by the court and the two lawyers, but Johan Meijering and Cor van L. were not able to come to an agreement. During the procedure, it quickly became clear that the focal point of this case was the authenticity of the – at this point – ten paintings that were part of the procedure.
At first, the Court provided the parties with the opportunity to appoint a fellow case expert to determine the authenticity of the paintings. To no great surprise, Meijering and Van L. were unable to agree on an expert. As a result, the Court appointed C. Buijsert, an employee at the Utrechts Venduehuis (auctioneers), as an independent expert. Buijsert was instructed to write a report on the authenticity, keeping into account the evidence presented by both parties. Buijsert’s initial report concluded that all ten paintings were inauthentic, and that their estimated artistic value was € 0, with the decorative value being estimated roughly at € 800. Van L. protested the short length of the report and stated that it did not answer all questions the court had asked. The court agreed and instructed Buijsert to further elaborate in a follow-up report. During the next hearing, Buijsert presented his follow-up report, and again Van L. complained about the motivation, in particular that the follow-up report was inconsistent with the original report. The court allowed Van L.’s complaints. As a result, the Court decided that the ten paintings could not be considered inauthentic and thusly Meijerings claims based on these grounds failed. What is remarkable is that the court stated that the court-appointed expert hadn’t done his work properly and that therefore they had rejected the claim. A more logical action would have been to appoint a new expert for a second opinion. It was this interlocutory decision that Meijering appealed. For the exact details of the appeal go to the Appeal page.
After the appeal was granted, and two paintings were deemed inauthentic, the Court of Appeal sent the case back to the Assen Court with the instruction to continue the proceedings based on the premise that two of the works were fake. As a result, the Assen Court proceeding resumed at the start of 2013 with, again, a possible settlement meeting. During this meeting, Corrie van L. (Van L.’s wife) let slip that both Pic de Luc and Het Reitdiep were acquired from the J. couple. This was the first time the Van L. couple provided a traceable provenance of one of the works in question. This statement would lead to an attempt to reopen the Zwaneveld Case. In the proceedings that would follow over the next two years, the Assen Court would rule in favor of Meijering’s damages claims on several occasions, leading to an initial damages payment of € 40.000.
As the proceedings continue, several damages still need to be determined as they see to loss of profits and immaterial damages. To determine the height of these damages a third proceeding is starting, a so-called damages proceeding.
This case has become increasingly complex as there have been numerous interlocutory judgments that have been appealed, besides the separate damages proceedings. As a result, the case has had a very slow pace, as another judgment was required every time a new sub-procedure was started. There has been no final judgment, as Van L.’s appeal is still ongoing and the damages-proceedings still need to take place. As a result, the Assen Court proceedings have now been ongoing for 14 years. If we look at the content, it is most remarkable that the Assen Court decided the works were not inauthentic, and that the court-appointed expert was deemed incompetent. This reasoning is puzzling to say the least, as a new independent expert with a new set of tasks would have been the more logical path to take. At any rate, these peculiar judgments haven’t helped the pace of the case.
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