Soon after writing this blog entry an e-mail arrived:
Dear Mr Dowd,
It has been brought to my attention that an item concerning loans to The Courtauld Gallery’s forthcoming Egon Schiele exhibition has been placed on a website for which you are listed as one of the contacts. On that basis I am writing to you to let you know that the three works mentioned there are not due to form part of the exhibition in London.
Ernst Vegelin van Claerbergen
Head of The Courtauld Gallery
The heirs of Fritz Grünbaum would like to thank Mr. Vegelin very much for promptness and proficiency in handling this matter.
Following the announcement for the Exhibition: “Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude”, 23 October 2014 – 18 January 2015 at the Courtauld Gallery (London), we would like to kindly remind the Gallery that three of there “…groundbreaking exhibition objects…” are part of the stolen Collection Fritz Gruenbaum.
Yes, this exhibition will be groundbreaking – first ever museums show of works by Egon Schiele in U.K. and at least 10% of the paintings are Looted Art.
Assistant Registrar of Collections
The Courtauld Gallery
The Courtauld Institute of Art
Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN
Tel. +44 (0)20 7848 2924 (direct line)
Dear Registrar Mogg: We represent the heirs of Franz Friedrich “Fritz” Grunbaum, the owners of the following works by Egon Schiele:
1. Sitzendes Mädchen mit gelbem Tuch, JK 1278
2. Sich umarmende Akte, JK 1606
3. Stehendes Mädchen mit orangefarbenen Strümpfen, JK 1488
The artworks were stolen following Fritz’s deportation to the Dachau concentration camp where he died penniless. More information at http://artstolenfromfritzgrunbaum.wordpress.com/. We are happy to provide additional information, including an expert report from Dr. Jonathan Petropoulos analyzing the Nazi-era evidence that the artworks were stolen from Fritz and his wife Lily (who perished in a death camp in Minsk after being despoiled of all earthly possessions).
We understand that there are art dealers peddling other works stolen from Fritz Grunbaum in London and would appreciate you keeping a sharp eye out for these works. I regularly give lectures on this topic and would be happy to come to London to engage in discussion or educational programming. Unfortunately, many members of the art buying public seem to have forgotten the promises of the London Declaration of 1943 and the sacrifices that Great Britain made during World War II to make those promises to those despoiled by the Nazis a reality. The art market has become a graverobber’s delight, despite clear laws to the contrary.
Additionally, we understand that you may have information regarding these works that are in the collection of the Leopold Museum, an entity that was created to collect Nazi looted art in violation of the Austrian State Treaty of 1955 which requires that property stolen from Nazi persecutees be returned by Austria. The United Kingdom was a signatory to this treaty and may enforce it, so the Leopold Museum has no cognizable legal standing to assert title or possession to the artworks.
These works have been listed on www.lostart.de, a database of stolen artworks maintained by the government of Germany.
Pursuant to the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi Confiscated Art, to which the United Kingdom is a signatory and which encourages heirs to come forward to make known their claims and encourages nations to develop mechanisms to resolve disputes on the merits, we ask your kind assistance in securing the safe return of the artworks to their rightful owner.
Raymond J. Dowd
DUNNINGTON, BARTHOLOW & MILLER LLP
1359 Broadway, Suite 600
New York, New York 10018