Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Portrait of Wally on Display for Everyone to See


Registrar Erica Blumenfeld examining
Portrait of Wally July 2010.
As you may have heard, the documentary about Egon Schiele’s Portrait of Wally and its 13 years of litigation has opened. It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last month and starts a limited engagement at The Quad in Greenwich Village beginning this Friday.

While you are familiar with the long history of the painting, its story of international intrigue, courtroom drama, and the subject of art restitution, we entered the scene in 2010 when we hosted the news conference announcing that a settlement was reached between the Bondi family and the Leopold Foundation regarding the disposition of the painting.

The painting was displayed at the Museum of Jewish Heritage for three weeks and was the only place in the world to see it before it returned to Vienna. Here is the label that accompanied the painting when it hung in the Museum; consider it an abridged history.   The Museum was chosen to host the painting by the Bondi Jaray estate who wanted “a setting that would memorialize the suffering of so many in the Holocaust and the resilience and resolve of those who escaped and/or survived.”

Robert Morgenthau, in his role as Manhattan District Attorney, prevented the Museum of Modern Art from sending the painting back to Vienna after its showing in 1997. As you can imagine, he figures prominently in the film, as do art restitution experts, federal officials, and a museum director or two.

We very much enjoyed working with director and screenwriter Andrew Shea, screenwriter David D’Arcy, and producer Barbara Morgan when they were here filming, and we wish them tremendous success with their important film.

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