A federal judge in Manhattan ruled that the U.S. government and the Leopold Museum in Vienna have enough evidence to possibly lay claim to the “Portrait of Wally.” The painting by Austrian expressionist Schiele in 1912 depicts his mistress and primary model. The U.S. government confiscated the painting when it was on loan from the Leopold, claiming the museum knew the painting had been stolen by a Nazi in 1939 from its Jewish owner, Lea Bondi. The Leopold sent more than 100 works by Schiele to New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1997. Acting on information that two paintings had been looted in Austria during World War II, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau seized “Portrait of Wally” and “Dead City” from the museum.
And the work has been in storage ever since.
Jonathan Perlow, Dispute Over Schiele Painting Heads to Trial [Courthouse News Service, Oct. 7, 2009]