Friday, September 03, 2010
Art Litigation: Second Circuit Rules In Another Stolen Egon Schiele Drawing Case
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today in a case involving the Estate of Fritz Grunbaum. A Massachusetts inventor and sculptor named David Bakalar purchased a drawing taken from Grunbaum while he was in the Dachau Concentration Camp, where he was murdered by the Nazis.
The decision is below. The Second Circuit concluded that the trial judge erred by applying Swiss, rather than New York law, to determine title to an artwork located in New York.
I was lead trial counsel at the district court level and argued the appeal to the Second Circuit.
Fritz Grunbaum's art collection made headlines when D.A. Robert Morgenthau seized Egon Schiele's Dead City from the MoMA in New York City. At the same time, Morgenthau seized Egon Schiele's Portrait of Wally, which was also stolen. Portrait of Wally was returned by Austria this summer.
The Grunbaum heirs are waiting on Austria to make a decision on whether or not to return Dead City and the other artworks stolen from Fritz Grunbaum that are now in the Albertina and Leopold Museums. Austria has promised to issue a report soon, and then The Austrian Commission for Provenance Research is expected to rule.
Oberlin College has steadfastly refused to share its provenance research into Black Girl, another work stolen from Fritz Grunbaum while he was in Dachau. Oberlin's provenance page here.
If American researchers and academic institutions like Oberlin won't be honest about the Nazi provenance of the artworks in their collections, why should we expect better of Austria?
More on Oberlin's falsified provenance of Black Girl here.
More on Nazi Art Looting here.
More on Fritz Grunbaum here.
More on Egon Schiele here.
Art Litigation - Nazi Looted Art - Bakalar v Vavra - Stolen Egon Schiele Drawing
Purchase Copyright Litigation Handbook from West here
Partner in Manhattan law firm Dunnington Bartholow & Miller LLP in New York City litigating in federal and state courts and arbitrations. Experienced trial and appellate practitioner. Author: Copyright Litigation Handbook (Thomson Reuters 2015-2016). The New York Law Journal called it "an indispensable guide". Serve on the Board of Directors of the Federal Bar Association, served as Chair of the Circuit Vice Presidents, Vice President for the Second Circuit and General Counsel. Member Board of Governors, National Arts Club. President, Network of Bar Leaders (2013-2014). Attorney advertising disclaimer - prior results do not guarantee success. The statements and opinions voiced here are my own and not of my law firm.