Three works by Egon Schiele stolen by the Nazis confiscated from US museums

  • The New York Supreme Court ordered the seizure of drawings by the Austrian artist that had been stolen from a Jewish art collector who died in the Holocaust.

US authorities confiscated three works of art in the hands of several museums in the country, sought by the heirs of a Jewish art collector who died in the Holocaust, official sources reported Thursday.

In the orders for the search issued by the Supreme Court of New York, they indicate that “there are sufficient reasons to believe” that the works of the Austrian expressionist Egon Schiele are stolen, thus confirming information published by The New York Times.

The works were in the Art Institute of Chicago, the Carnegie Museums of Art in Pittsburgh, and the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College in Ohio.

This is the Russian Prisoner of War (1916), a watercolor and pencil on paper valued at $1.25 million owned by the Art Institute; Portrait of a Man (1917), a pencil drawing on paper, valued at $1 million that was in the Carnegie Museum of Art; and Young Man with Black Hair (1911), a watercolor and pencil on paper valued at $1.5 million in the hands of Oberlin.

The court orders indicate that the works can remain where they are for 60 days and will later be transferred to New York. “We are confident in our legal acquisition and legitimate possession of this work,” declared the Chicago museum, which states that the retained piece is the subject of a civil case in federal court.

The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh pledged to “cooperate fully with the investigations of the relevant authorities.”

The works are being sought by the living heirs of Fritz Grunbaum, a prominent Jewish collector and cabaret artist who died in the Dachau concentration camp (Germany) in 1941. According to the New York newspaper, an investigation is underway into a dozen works by Schiele supposedly stolen by the Nazis.

Grunbaum’s heirs have been in court for years trying to recover works he owned. The courts ruled in 2005 that they had waited too long to act, but in 2018 they obtained a favorable ruling and recovered two pieces.