Portrait of Wally

Released 2012


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Movie Summary

"Portrait of Wally", Egon Schiele?s tender picture of his mistress, Walburga (?Wally?) Neuzil, is the pride of the Leopold Museum in Vienna. But for 13 years the painting was locked up in New York, caught in a legal battle between the Austrian museum and the Jewish family from whom the Nazis seized the painting in 1939. PORTRAIT OF WALLY traces the history of this iconic image ? from Schiele?s gesture of affection toward his young lover, to the theft of the painting from Lea Bondi, a Jewish art dealer fleeing Vienna for her life, to the post-war confusion and subterfuge that evoke THE THIRD MAN, to the surprise resurfacing of ?Wally? on loan to the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan in 1997. The ?Wally? case brought the story of Nazi art loot into the open, eventually forcing museums in Europe and the U.S. to search their own collections for suspect objects. Many museums ended up returning art to Jewish families who had abandoned hope until ?Wally? showed that institutions could be held accountable for holding property stolen during the Holocaust. The case was resolved in dramatic fashion in the summer of 2010, but only after the history of Schiele?s extraordinary painting was unearthed to revisit the crimes of the Holocaust and to witness the reluctance of major institutions in Europe and New York to send the ?last prisoners of war? back to their families.moreless
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