Portrait of Wally, Egon Schiele, 1912
This week on Art Uncovered I’m joined by Andrew Shea. He’s the director of a new film called POW: Portrait of Wally. The film tells the story of one family’s efforts to recover a 1912 work by Egon Schiele, Portrait of Wally, that was stolen by the Nazis during World War II.
Unfolding like a legal thriller, the film traces the painting from it’s theft in 1939 to it’s resurfacing in Austria after the war and its shady acquisition by Scheile-obsessed collector Rudolph Leopold. The search for the painting comes to a head in 1997 when an heir of the painting’s rightful owner, Lea Bondi, sees Portrait of Wally on the wall at the Museum of Modern Art as part of an exhibition featuring Mr. Leopold’s collection. What follows is a 13 year legal battle between the Bondi family, the Leopold Collection and the Museum of Modern Art.
On this week’s show Andrew Shea walks me through the twists and turns of the stolen Scheile painting, how it came to the Leopold collection, why MoMA fought so hard against the Bondi family, and how the case has impacted the ways that museums can be held accountable for exhibiting stolen art.
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