Egon Schiele Nazi Restitution Case Settled

Compensation to the family of a Jewish art dealer who was forced to sell a painting by Secessionist Artist, Egon Schiele, during the war, is finally going to be realised. The painting now in the collection of the Leopold Museum in Vienna was donated by a wealthy collector. The Museum is to sell off another work by the artist to pay the relatives. It is expected to fetch up to £30 million when it is sold at Sotheby’s in London next month. The work, titled “Häuser mit bunter Wäsche” (Vorstadt II) Is now being sold so the museum can keep the the other more important work. “Portrait of Wally” is a rendition of the artists mistress painted in 1912. It is considered a masterpiece by this innovative painter. Peter Weinhäupl. The museum’s managing director, said: “While this painting will be missed, we are fortunate to hold eight further Schiele cityscapes of superb quality so it is logical that we sell one of these in order to keep the portrait.”

Last year, a US court ruling demanded the museum pay $19 million (£11.52 million) to the heirs of Lea Bondi Jaray, the portrait ‘s original owner.  It was stolen from an apartment in Vienna by Friedrich Welz, a Nazi officer, who insisted it form part of the sale of the dealer’s business to him. She later fled Vienna for London. This was one of the tactics used by the Nazi’s to rob Jewish families of their wealth. This practice wasn’t compensated until new laws were passed in Europe, in the 1990’s. The portrait remained in a private collection until The owner donated it to the museum in the 1990’s.  Mrs Jaray died in London in 1969. The family renewed its claim on the painting when it was loaned to the MOMA NY in 1997. The cityscape was painted in 1914 at the peak of Schiele’s career. He died four years later at the age of 28. The decision, handed down by a U.S. District Judge now renders unnecessary a planned July 26 trial, in New York . The court was to rule whether or not the museum had known that the painting was stolen when it was brought it into U.S. boarders for a show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1997. The painting will be sold June 22. Sotheby’s London


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