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Stolen from its Jewish owner when the Nazis invaded Austria in 1938, Egon Schiele's painting Portrait of Wally later resurfaced at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1997 — which sparked a thirteen-year legal battle with the owner's heirs and brought the charged issue of Holocaust property crimes into the public sphere. This new documentary offers a fascinating account of the tangled legal and ethical dispute over Schiele’s famous work.
In 1939, Egon Schiele’s Portrait of Wally — the painter’s tender
depiction of his mistress, Walburga "Wally" Neuzil — was stolen
from Jewish art dealer Lea Bondi as she fled Vienna ahead of the
invading Nazis. In 1997, when the painting resurfaced on loan to
Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art, Bondi’s heirs asked that the
painting be returned to them, launching a thirteen-year legal battle
that brought the charged issue of Holocaust property crimes into
the public sphere, and eventually forced many art institutions
throughout Europe and the US to return works to Jewish families.
As a part of Holocaust Education Week, organized by the
Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, TIFF is proud to present
this special screening of the new documentary Portrait of Wally, a
fascinating account of the tangled legal and ethical dispute over
Schiele’s famous work. The screening will include an introduction
and Q&A session with the film’s producer and screenwriter David
D’Arcy, a critic and journalist who has been writing about disputes
over art since the 1980s.