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Displaying items by tag: Leopold Museum

On Friday, 31 October 2014, a press conference was held in New York in connection with the recently settled claim for restitution involving a work by Schiele formerly owned by the noted Viennese cabaret artist Fritz Grünbaum, who died in a concentration camp. The watercolor is due to be auctioned at Christie's New York on Wednesday, 5 November 2014.

In the invitation presented to the Leopold Museum Private Foundation to attend the press conference, which was held in the Museum of Jewish Heritage, reference was made to the claim for restitution, refuted by the Leopold Museum Private Foundation, for another painting by Schiele, "Tote Stadt III" [Dead City III], also from Fritz Grünbaum's collection. This work is part of the Leopold Collection and in the possession of the Leopold Museum Private Foundation.

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Tobias Natter, director of Vienna’s Leopold Museum, abruptly announced his resignation to protest ties between museum board members and a new foundation established to manage the Gustav Klimt collection once belonging to Gustav Ucicky, the artist’s son and a director of Nazi propaganda films.

Natter told Bloomberg, “I see this as a huge problem for the museum. Ucicky collected in the Nazi era. The shadow of looted art has hung so heavily over the Leopold in the past years. Why do we have to get into bed with these people? It is incompatible and a conflict of interests in so many different ways.” The Gustav Klimt Wien 1900 foundation owns 4 oil paintings by the artist as well as 10 drawings and an assortment of other documents and photographs. The entire collection is estimated to be worth $275 million. Ucicky’s wife, Ursula, who was given the collection upon her husband’s death in 1961, established the new foundation.

In 2010, The Leopold Museum paid $19 million to the heirs of the Jewish art dealer Lea Bondi Jaray to settle a decades-long dispute over a portrait by Egon Schiele. The museum has faced a spate of other restitution claims over the years.


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Wednesday, 06 February 2013 13:59

As Expected, Picasso Dominates Sotheby’s Sale

Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) Femme Assise Prés D’une Fenêtre (1932) sold for nearly $45 million at Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern evening sale on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 in London. The coveted portrait of Picasso’s lover and muse, Marie-Therese Walter, came from a private collection and was last seen on the market in 1997 when it sold for $7.5 million. The portrait was guaranteed to sell due to a third-party “irrevocable bid” and while the buyer remains anonymous, some believe it was the guarantor, represented by Patti Wong, the chairman of Sotheby’s Asia.

The auction, which totaled $190 million, also included a separately catalogued section of 21 Surrealist works. All but three works sold, adding $26 million to the overall sale. Highlights from this section included Joan Miro’s (1893-1983) Femme revant de l’evasion (1945), which sold for $13 million and also carried a third-party guarantee.

Another considerable sale of the night was a series of three drawings by Egon Schiele (1890-1918), which brought $22 million. The works were put on sale by Vienna’s Leopold Museum. Another Schiele work, a pencil, gouache, and watercolor piece completed in 1915, sold to Wong on behalf a client for $13 million.

The sale was Sotheby’s second highest for an Impressionist sale in London.

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Vienna’s Leopold Museum agreed to pay $5 million to the granddaughter of Jenny Steiner, a Jewish silk- factory owner, to keep in its collection a painting by Egon Schiele that was stolen by the Nazis.

The 1914 painting, “Houses by the Sea,” belonged to Steiner until she fled Austria in 1938, shortly after the Nazis marched into Vienna. She escaped to Paris and later emigrated to the U.S. with her two daughters. The painting was seized and sold by the Nazis, then later auctioned. Rudolf Leopold, the founder of the Leopold Museum, acquired it in 1955, the museum said in a statement published today on its website.

“After long negotiations, we succeeded in finding a fair and just solution,” the museum said. “Both sides went to great lengths to find a definitive settlement.”

The Leopold Museum owns 44 Schiele paintings and 180 works on paper, the biggest collection of the artist worldwide. During Rudolf Leopold’s lifetime -- he died on June 29 last year at the age of 85 -- the museum argued that as a private foundation, it was not subject to Austria’s restitution law, which only applies to federal government museums.

After Leopold’s death, his son Diethard Leopold pledged to settle all outstanding claims for Nazi-looted art in the museum’s collection as quickly as possible.

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