Author: Fritz Grünbaum

OTS: Seven works from the Grünbaum Collection restituted in New York

Hier finden sie die deutsche Version

Lawsuit against the Republic of Austria has been filed in New York. Will the Albertina and the Leopoldmuseum follow the example of the American museums and voluntarily restitute 12 paintings?

Vienna/New York (OTS) – Seven important works of art by Egon Schiele were ceremoniously handed over to the heirs of Viennese cabaret artist Fritz Grünbaum on Wednesday afternoon. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office calls the act a crucial milestone in one of the longest-running Holocaust restitution cases in the art world.
The ceremony to return the artworks to the heirs of Fritz Grünbaum, who was murdered in the Dachau concentration camp in 1941, took place in the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, in whose jurisdiction the case lies.

“This is of enormous importance in our world,” stressed Timothy Reif, one of the Grünbaum heirs, referring to the descendants of Holocaust victims who have been demanding the return of looted property for nearly 80 years. “It sets the tone and agenda for all future cases. For more than a quarter of a century, the Grünbaum heirs have been fighting for the return of various Schiele works. These demands, which have led to civil suits in the courts, are closely followed in the art world.”

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office took up the case in December 2022 after a New York civil court ruled in 2018 that Fritz Grünbaum had not sold or returned any of his works before his death, meaning his heirs were the legitimate owners. Prosecutors were able to present evidence that the seven works had passed through the hands of a Manhattan dealer, claiming legal jurisdiction. This time, however, was different: several museums and collectors contacted by prosecutors agreed to return the Schiele works to the heirs after being told they had stolen property.

The seven works voluntarily returned were owned by three museums – the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), the Morgan Library & Museum, both in New York, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in California – as well as two collectors, Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress and a longtime advocate of Holocaust restitution, and the estate of Serge Sabarsky, a well-known art collector. An eighth work from Sabarsky’s estate was previously returned to his heirs.

“Fritz Grünbaum was a man of incredible depth and spirit, and his memory lives on through the artwork that is finally being returned to his relatives,” Bragg said in a statement. “I hope this moment can serve as a reminder that despite the horrific death and destruction at the hands of the Nazis, it’s never too late to recover some of what was lost.”

This has also brought the issue of the paintings from the Grünbaum Collection held by the Austrian museums Albertina and Leopold Collection back to the center of restitution policy.
The heirs of Fritz Grünbaum have brought suit in the Southern District Court in New York against the Leopold Museum, the Albertina, and their legal or de facto owner, the Republic of Austria, for a declaration of ownership and restitution of the following works by Egon Schiele:

1. Dead city III (1911) (P.213)
2. Self-portrait with grimace (1910) (D.705)
3. Standing man with red scarf (1913) (D.1420)
4. Red blouse (1913) (D.1394)
5. Embracing nudes (1914) (D.1606)
6. Intertwined nudes (1912) (D.1147)
7. Seated girl with yellow cloth (1913) (D.1278)
8. Devotion (1912) (D.1418)
9. Standing girl with orange stockings (1914) (D.1488)
10. Self-portrait as penitent (1911) (D.942)
11. Aunt and nephew (1915) (D.1797)
12. Seated female nude on red cloth (1914) (D.1504)

The Austrian representative of the heirs after Fritz Grünbaum, Herbert Gruber, comments:

“It is astonishing in this context that none of the defendants’ representatives contacted the representatives of the heirs of Fritz Grünbaum in any form to find an out-of-court solution. The Republic of Austria hired one of the most expensive lawyers in New York with an hourly fee of USD 2000 in any case, and this despite the disastrous results in looted art cases such as Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I”, also called “Golden Adele”.”

Mediakit (German/English)

Austrian legal representative of the heirs after Fritz Grünbaum:
Mag. Michael Pilz
Telephone: +43 (0)1 406 05 51

American legal representative of the heirs of Fritz Grünbaum:
Raymond J. Dowd
Phone: +1 212 682 8811

LIVE STREAMING – Nazi Looted Art – Litigation and Dispute Resolution

You should see a photo here


Today, more than 75 years after the end of WWII, cases to recover artwork looted by the Nazis are being litigated across the USA. This program will discuss recent developments in the law affecting such artwork, including a new law that took effect in New York State on August 10, 2022 and the expiration of the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act’s extension of statutes of limitations for certain claims known prior to December 16, 2016. Hear from lawyers and a client who have successfully pursued claims for restitution of artwork, and learn from a lawyer/international business director for one of the world’s preeminent auction houses, about the law, the history and the ethical considerations involved in the still-unfolding cases resulting from one of history’s greatest thefts.

Presented By:
Hon. Timothy M. Reif, Esq.
Eileen Brankovic
Raymond J. Dowd, Esq.
Claudia G. Jaffe, Esq.
Samuel A. Blaustein, Esq.

Fritz Gruenbaum’s Egon Schiele Works on Paper in Christie´s 20th Century Evening Sale





 LIVE AUCTION: 17 NOVEMBER 2022 at Rockefeller Center

Property from the Collection of the Viennese Cabaret and

Film Star Fritz Grünbaum

EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)

Frau, das Gesicht verbergend

signed and dated ‘EGON SCHIELE 1912’.

gouache, watercolor and pencil on paper

12 ¼ x 18 ⅞ in. (31.5 x 48 cm.)

Executed in 1912

Estimate: $1,500,00-2,000,000

Property from the Collection of the Viennese Cabaret and

Film Star Fritz Grünbaum

EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)

Frau mit schwarzer Schürze (recto); Studie fur Frau (verso)

signed and dated ‘EGON SCHIELE 1911.’ (center right; recto)

gouache, watercolor and pencil on paper (recto); pencil on paper (verso)

19 ⅛ x 12 ¾ in. (48.5 x 32.2 cm.)

Executed in 1911

Estimate: $500,00-800,000

New York— Christie’s is honored to include two important works on paper by Egon Schiele – formerly in the collection of the Viennese cabaret and film star Fritz Grünbaum – in the 20th Century Evening Sale taking place live on 17 November 2022 at Rockefeller Center. These two works trace Schiele’s development during 1911-1912, two crucial years in his brief career. The works were part of the collection numbering in the hundreds of works that Fritz Grünbaum – said to be the inspiration for Joel Gray’s character in the Broadway musical Cabaret – assembled in Vienna in the first decades of the last century. The collection was lost when the Nazis invaded Austria in the late 1930s, and both Mr. Grünbaum and his wife were sent to concentration camps where they perished. These two works were recently restituted to the Grünbaum family.

Frau, das Gesicht verbergend (estimate: $1,500,00-2,000,000)

Created in 1912, this work is notable for the unusual viewpoint and suggestively intimate pose of the sitter, and focuses on the sinuous form of the model as she twists on to her side and begins to remove her clothing under the artist’s watchful gaze. Although the sitter’s identity remains a mystery, her face hidden under the crook of her arm as she moves, the wild tangle of black hair falling loosely in a cloud around her is reminiscent of a series of portraits Schiele created of the bohemian dancer and mime artist Moa. Rejecting the traditional idealization of the female nude, and including the blemishes and anatomical quirks which marked the model’s body, this work captures the explosive modernity of Schiele’s vision during this period.

Frau mit schwarzer Schürze (estimate: $500,00-800,000)

Executed in delicate layers of pigment, Frau mit Schwarzer Schürze reveals Schiele’s growing confidence in the use of watercolor during the latter half of 1911. His art had undergone a dramatic transformation over the course of the previous year, shifting away from the bold, jagged, angular lines that had previously dominated his oeuvre to explore a softer, more delicate approach to form. In this work, Schiele allows the washes of color to bleed over the contours of his pencil drawing underneath, lending the outline of the figure a more rounded, organic character. Retaining a sense of the fluidity of the paint and the bold movements of the artist’s paintbrush as it danced across the page, Schiele plays with the sheer liquidity of the watercolor, limiting the flow of the pigment by adding a subtle white “halo” around the edges of the young girl’s body.

Vanessa Fusco, Head of Impressionist & Modern Art and Head of 20th Evening Sale, said: “These two exquisite works by Schiele display the daring nature of his ground-breaking studies of the female figure, an artistic obsession which occupied him throughout his short-lived career. Through his exacting and unforgiving investigation of the female body, the artist challenges and subverts the conservative veneer of contemporary Viennese society, revealing the latent erotic charge that existed just below its surface. This underlying tension, coupled with Schiele’s incredible command of his media, give these works a timeless quality that account for their enduring desirability and relevance.


The Legacy of Fritz Grünbaum

Born Franz Friedrich Grünbaum in April 1880, Fritz Grünbaum was a celebrated cabaret performer, writer, actor and outspoken opponent of Nazism, active in Vienna during the early twentieth century. He studied law before turning to performance and cabaret, and enjoyed a highly successful and varied theatrical career, which included performances at the famous Viennese theatre Simpl, as well as roles in several early films. Alongside his work as a performer, Grünbaum held a life-long passion for art, shaped by his father Wilhelm’s activities as a dealer in the city of Brno (Brünn), and he built up a diverse personal collection which ranged from Russian icons and etchings by Old Masters such as Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt, to Post-Impressionist and Modern drawings and watercolors by August Rodin, Camille Pissarro, Paul Signac, Max Liebermann, Käthe Kollwitz, and others.

However, it was compositions by the Viennese avant-garde of the early twentieth century and, in particular, the works of Egon Schiele that captured Grünbaum’s imagination. Over the course of his life, he purchased over 80 works by the artist, spanning the full range of Schiele’s creative output, from delicate pencil portraits and nude studies executed in gouache or watercolor, to striking, melancholic landscapes and mysterious allegorical subjects in oil.

Shortly after the German annexation of Austria in 1938, Grünbaum was arrested by the Gestapo and subsequently interned at Dachau concentration camp in June 1938, where he perished in January of 1941, after having also spent some time incarcerated in Buchenwald. His art collection, which numbered over 400 works at the time of his arrest, was lost following his wife Lilly’s deportation to the Maly Trostenets concentration camp near Minsk in October 1942, where she was murdered soon after her arrival. Frau, das Gesicht verbergend and Frau mit schwarzer Schürze were recently restituted to the Grünbaum family after years spent fighting for their return.


Richard Aronowitz, Christie’s Global Head of Restitution, said: “It is always deeply humbling to come face-to-face with works of art that were once owned by those people who went on to become victims of the Holocaust. These cherished items speak to us of lives lived and lost. Such is the case here with these two fine watercolor compositions by Egon Schiele: they stand as an abiding, unerasable testament to Fritz Grünbaum’s taste as a collector and to Egon Schiele at the height of his artistic powers.


Christie’s has the largest and most experienced Restitution team of any international auction house, underscoring our responsibility to this field. Located in New York, London, Berlin, Brussels and Vienna, our researchers have a century of combined years of experience. We have made Nazi-era provenance research a hallmark of our expertise.


Images for press use available  HERE.


Edward Lewine | | 212 636 2680


About Christie’s

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Press release: Christie´s and the family of Fritz Grünbaum agree to the sale of two important works by Egon Schiele

German Version below


Christie’s is honored to announce that the family and heirs of the renowned performer, composer, and art collector Fritz Grünbaum have entrusted Christie’s with the sale of two important works on paper by Egon Schiele, which will be included in Christie’s Evening sale of 20th Century Art in New York this November. These two exceptional watercolors were part of the collection numbering in the hundreds of works that Fritz Grünbaum – said to be the inspiration for Joel Grey’s character in the Broadway musical Cabaret – assembled in Vienna in the first decades of the last century. The collection was lost when the Nazis invaded Austria in the late 1930s, and both Mr. Grünbaum and his wife were sent to concentration camps where they perished. Christie’s and the Grünbaum family hope this sale will offer an opportunity to celebrate the life, art, and genius of Fritz Grünbaum.
Richard Aronowitz, Christie’s Global Head of Restitution, said: “It has been a privilege to work with the Grünbaum heirs and I want to thank them for giving us the opportunity to offer these extraordinary Egon Schiele drawings. We look forward to sharing these works with the world, and to introducing a new generation to Fritz Grünbaum, a renowned performer who was also a renowned collector.”
Raymond J. Dowd, Esq., who is representing the Grünbaum heirs, said: “I want to thank Christie’s for the expertise, professionalism, and personal care they have shown throughout this process. I am confident that we have placed the legacy of Fritz Grünbaum and the trust of his family in the best hands in the business.”
Christie’s has the largest and most experienced Restitution team of any international auction house, underscoring our responsibility to this field. Located in New York, London, Berlin, and Vienna, our researchers have a century of combined years of experience. We have made Nazi-era provenance research a hallmark of our expertise.


Christie’s freut sich, bekannt geben zu können, dass die Familie und die Erben des berühmten Künstlers, Komponisten und Kunstsammlers Fritz Grünbaum Christie’s mit dem Verkauf von zwei bedeutenden Papierarbeiten von Egon Schiele beauftragt haben, die in der Christie’s Evening Sale of 20th Century Art in New York diesen November angeboten werden. Diese beiden außergewöhnlichen Aquarelle gehörten zu der Hunderte von Werken umfassenden Sammlung, die Fritz Grünbaum – der als Inspiration für die Figur des Joel Grey im Broadway-Musical Cabaret gilt – in den ersten Jahrzehnten des letzten Jahrhunderts in Wien zusammengetragen hatte. Die Sammlung ging verloren, als die Nazis in den späten 1930er Jahren in Österreich einmarschierten, und sowohl Herr Grünbaum als auch seine Frau wurden in Konzentrationslager geschickt, wo sie umkamen. Christie’s und die Familie Grünbaum hoffen, dass dieser Verkauf eine Gelegenheit bietet, das Leben, die Kunst und das Genie von Fritz Grünbaum zu feiern.
Richard Aronowitz, Christie’s Global Head of Restitution, sagte: “Es war ein Privileg, mit den Grünbaum-Erben zusammenzuarbeiten, und ich möchte ihnen dafür danken, dass sie uns die Möglichkeit gegeben haben, diese außergewöhnlichen Egon Schiele-Zeichnungen anzubieten. Wir freuen uns darauf, diese Werke mit der Welt zu teilen und eine neue Generation mit Fritz Grünbaum bekannt zu machen, einem berühmten Künstler, der auch ein renommierter Sammler war.”
Raymond J. Dowd, Esq., der die Grünbaum-Erben vertritt, sagte: “Ich möchte Christie’s für das Fachwissen, die Professionalität und die persönliche Betreuung danken, die sie während dieses Prozesses gezeigt haben. Ich bin zuversichtlich, dass wir das Erbe von Fritz Grünbaum und das Vertrauen seiner Familie in die besten Hände der Branche gelegt haben.”
Christie’s verfügt über das größte und erfahrenste Restitutions-Team aller internationalen Auktionshäuser, was unsere Verantwortung in diesem Bereich unterstreicht. Unsere Forscher in New York, London, Berlin und Wien verfügen zusammen über ein Jahrhundert an Erfahrung. Wir haben die Provenienzforschung in der Nazizeit zu einem Markenzeichen unserer Expertise gemacht.

A monument for Fritz Grünbaum

by Richard Weihs (* October 6, 1956 in Wels), an Austrian author, musician and actor, with a focus on Viennese dialect.

A commonplace that is probably popular at all times says that any cabaret, no matter how satirically exaggerated, is always far outdone by real existing politics. And the true story of the naming of a small square in Vienna-Mariahilf after the great cabaret artist Fritz Grünbaum seems to me to confirm this thesis quite vividly.It was in the spring of 1979 when I protested with hand-painted posters against the planned development of a large plot of land on the Linke Wienzeile. In such a green-poor residential area, I thought (and later thousands of other residents of Mariahilfer), the construction of a public park would be much more urgent.

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