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Sunday, May 6, 2012

WHAT MAKES THE PORTRAIT OF WALLY CASE SO SIGNIFICANT?



What makes the Portrait of Wally case so significant?
It was the initiative taken by the US government that made all the difference [in the Portrait of Wally case], signalling that it would expend national resources to seek justice

By Judith H. Dobrzynski. Web only
Published online: 24 April 2012

If true art aims to change the world, perhaps no picture has proven as successful lately as Egon Schiele’s 1912 tender, traditional portrait of his mistress, Wally Neuzil. Far less graphic and edgy than the works that made Schiele’s reputation, the painting is nevertheless destined for iconhood because of its history as Nazi loot and the 13-year legal battle waged for it, which was finally resolved in a 2010 settlement between the estate of Lea Bondi Jaray, the US government and the Leopold Museum in Vienna. Now the subject of a documentary called “Portrait of Wally,” which is due to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York on 28 April, the case and the painting are headed for more attention.

There have been plenty of restitution claims, before and after, involving better works and more money. But early on in “Portrait of Wally”, Willi Korte, an independent researcher who co-founded the Holocaust Art Restitution Project, rightly says, “I can’t think of any other case that had this effect, this significance. It is the case, out of all art restitution cases that I can think of, that really shaped the discussion for the following years.”


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