A demur redhead in a modest black dress is making a brief appearance in New York, before finally returning home to Austria.
"Portrait of Wally," painted by Austrian Egon Schiele in 1912, was put on display Thursday at The Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. On August 18, it will go back to the Leopold Museum in Vienna, after a settlement last week ended the painting's legal upheaval.
It's a story 70 years old, reaching across the Atlantic and involving Nazi theft, art-world deceit and a Jewish woman's deep affection for a favorite portrait.
Sometime before 1925, Austrian Jewish art collector and gallery owner Lea Bondi Jaray acquired "Portrait of Wally," according to a release from the U.S. attorney's office in New York.
In 1938, German troops occupied Austria. Nazi laws prohibited Jews from owning businesses, which made Bondi Jaray's gallery subject to confiscation. Instead, she sold the gallery to a Nazi art collector.
The collector saw "Wally" in Bondi Jaray's apartment and demanded it. She resisted, saying "Wally" was part of her private collection. Bondi Jaray's husband reminded her the Nazi could prevent their escape, so she relented and the Nazi art collector took the painting.