These valuable pieces, all creations of the renowned Austrian Expressionist Egon Schiele, were seized from museums in three different states
The artworks were originally owned by Fritz Grünbaum, a Jewish cabaret performer and songwriter who tragically lost his life at the Dachau concentration camp in 1941. The artworks in question, including “Russian War Prisoner,” a watercolor and pencil on paper valued at $1.25 million, “Portrait of a Man,” a $1 million pencil on paper drawing, and “Girl With Black Hair,” a watercolor and pencil on paper work valued at $1.5 million, were confiscated from the Art Institute of Chicago, the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, and the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College in Ohio.
These Egon Schiele works are part of Grünbaum’s collection, which he began assembling in the 1920s
His heirs have initiated civil litigation, contending that Grünbaum was coerced into surrendering ownership of his artworks. Manhattan prosecutors, asserting jurisdiction due to the involvement of Manhattan art dealers in the artworks trade, have taken up the case.
This seizure comes after a 2018 victory in which two Egon Schiele works were returned to Grünbaum’s heirs under the Holocaust Expropriated Recovery Act. The ongoing investigation aims to shed light on the rightful ownership of these historically significant Egon Schiele pieces, echoing broader efforts to recover art looted during a dark period in history.