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Portrait of Wally

2013

NR CC
4.4 out of 5 stars (40) IMDb 6.8/10

The story of a Nazi-looted painting, Egon Schiele's "Portrait of Wally," that was discovered on the walls of the Museum of Modern Art in 1997, triggering a historic court case that pitted the Manhattan District Attorney, the United States Government and the heirs of a Viennese gallery owner against a major Austrian museum and MoMA.

Runtime:
1 hour, 30 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Documentary
Director Andrew Shea
Studio Gravitas Ventures
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
I had never heard of this artist before, but while scrolling through Prime I fell in love with the odd painting and decided to give this documentary a try. I'm glad I did because of love history, especially when tied into the World Wars. The cinematography is good and makes for a more engaging documentary the way private footage and interviews are included. The sound quality was also good and I'm glad there were captions inlcuded (seeing as I'm deaf in one ear).
Portrait of Wally from start to finish details the background of the artist, the struggles of Jews to keep their family 'jewels' and the battle of the Nazis to control and redistribute stolen wealth. What is probably most concerning is how much art and personal belongings have been collected throughtout the years and aren't accounted for. Not because it was destroyed but because it was stolen and remains a secret from the true heirs.
Overall, if you're a art and history buff or are interested in the laws of ownership this documentary will be really enjoyable.
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By D Carr on January 31, 2014
Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
Great, well done.

First, Schiele. I didn't know his work. The documentary shows the variety of his work and tells his story, very absorbing.

Second, the film explores the conniving world of art collecting. With this Schiele case, it sheds light on the politics of private collecting and museum governance and their intrigues. I wonder, is this Schiele story unique? Don't think so.

Very thoughtful and well edited, the story is told very well.
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The complexity of a question of ownership in a setting where ownership means so many different things. One point that comes through is that- even if the individuals: the artist, whose friend, gallery owner and legal owner of the portrait- then her family, and the stunningness of the art- were at the center, the dominating interests are those of the institutions, whose missions and resources just give them free reign in getting what they want. Not easy to take sides, especially when some of the most egregious crimes of humanity are at the source of the conflict. Justice prevailed. But there is little satisfaction when the losing parties dont "let it go" (as Indiana Jones's father said at the end of the" Last Crusade"). This is a very well made documentary and difficult itself to let go of.
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Format: Amazon Video
Although the cinematography and writing aren't quite on the level with, say, the Burns brothers, this is a darn good documentary. Amazing historical footage is used to reinforce some of the information. It's a dark story that really happened, and the music is particularly effective in reinforcing the events. I found it staying on my mind for days afterward--sure test of its success.

I'm incredibly glad someone bothered to document this incident so well, since it highlights the ongoing dark legacy of the nazis that has never been completely obliterated.
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The documentary was excellent. One got a sense of the artist, the artist's model(s), the importance of the artist to Austria, the theft of the artist's works from rightful owners (primarily Jews) before and during WWII, the recovery (or not) of stolen artworks after the war, the doctored provenance of stolen artwork and facilitation by interested brokers, the intentional blindness of buyers to the questionable provenance documents, the efforts of owners to recover their property, the involvement of US authorities (US military, US law enforcement) in that recovery, the US judicial process, and the outcome in a specific case (not entirely satisfactory but groundbreaking). The art is stunning. The attitudes of the facilitators of theft is despicable (although not shocking). And, of course, the culpability of museums (and sponsors) desiring the enhance their collections through purchase or loan is obvious. An engrossing documentary!
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Format: DVD
"Portrait of Wally" documents the legal battle waged by the Bondi family to reclaim an oil painting originally owned by Vienna art dealer Lea Bondi that was surrendered under duress to Austrian art dealer Friedrich Welz in 1938, after Bondi's gallery was confiscated on account of her being Jewish. The painting was mistakenly included in a collection of confiscated art from Heinrich Rieger after World War II and ended up in the Belvedere Museum in Austria, from which the prolific collector Rudolf Leopold purchased the painting, apparently aware of its problematic provenance. Bondi was able to reclaim her gallery through Austria's Restitution Court after the War, but numerous attempts to reclaim "Portrait of Wally", made until her death in 1969, failed. That is until one of Bondi's descendants spotted the painting at a 1997 MOMA exhibit of Egon Schiele's works owned by the Rudolph Leopold Foundation and sought legal assistance.

The painting itself is an oil on panel by figurative painter Egon Schiele, done in 1912, shortly before he parted ways with his frequent model "Wally" Neuzil. Schiele painted a self-portrait the same day that makes an excellent companion piece. The film focuses on the evidence that Rudolph Leopold and the Belvedere Museum knew that the painting was confiscated art and therefore should have returned it to Lea Bondi during her lifetime, on the legal intricacies involved in keeping the painting in the United States until the question of ownership could be resolved, and on the MOMA's and the museum community's objection to the subpoena of the painting, which they felt would adversely affect international exchange of artworks.
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