Art Law Report

Portrait of Wally in Hindsight: What did it Really Change?

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on April 25, 2012 at 1:53 PM

A new piece at the Art Newspaper reflects on the importance of the Portrait of Wally case. Wally was seized in 1998 by customs officials on the theory that it was stolen property when imported into the U.S. The painting sat in a warehouse for 12 years, until a settlement returned the painting to Vienna in 2010 and a payment to Lea Bondi's heirs was made. I recall well the citywide celebrations in the Austrian capital when the painting returned; banners on lampposts proclaimed Bildnis Wally kehrt zurück—Portrait of Wally returns!

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Topics: Maria Altmann, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, Malewicz v. City of Amsterdam, The Art Newspaper, 22 U.S.C. § 2459, FSIA, Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act, IFSA, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Portrait of Wally, S.B. 2212, Immunity from Seizure Act, Customs, Gustav Klimt, Vienna

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About the Blog


The Art Law Report provides timely updates and commentary on legal issues in the museum and visual arts communities. It is authored by Nicholas M. O'Donnell, partner in our Art & Museum Law Practice.

The material on this site is for general information only and is not legal advice. No liability is accepted for any loss or damage which may result from reliance on it. Always consult a qualified lawyer about a specific legal problem.

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