New York, NY – A federal appeals court has overturned a verdict that denied the heirs of a Holocaust victim — including a Manhattan man — ownership of a valuable drawing they claim was looted by the Nazis.Join our WhatsApp group
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The case involves a 1917 work by Austrian expressionist Egon Schiele, “Seated Woman with Bent Left Leg (Torso),” which Massachusetts sculptor David Bakalar bought for $4,300 in 1963 from a Manhattan art gallery.
Bakalar filed suit when the heirs of Franz Friedrich Grunbaum — including Manhattan stamp dealer Leon Fischer — challenged his ownership after a 2005 auction at which the drawing attracted a top bid of $675,000.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a lower-court finding that relatives of Grunbaum, who died in Dachau in 1941, “failed to produce ‘any concrete evidence’ ” of their allegations.
“Our reading of the record suggests there may be such evidence,” Judge Edward Korman wrote for the three-judge panel.
The drawing was among 449 artworks — including 81 Schieles — owned by Grunbaum, a popular Vienna cabaret entertainer who was forced to sign over power of attorney after he was arrested and thrown in a concentration camp by the Nazis in 1938.
Bakalar’s lawyer, James Janowitz, said he would likely ask the entire Court of Appeals to review yesterday’s decision.