Prior to this trial, the works had been owned by London art dealer Richard Nagy, who purchased them six years ago. While the court has not accused Nagy of any wrongdoing, the holes in the works’ provenance history tipped the scales of justice in the direction of Grünbaum’s heirs. Nagy believed that the works wound up in possession of Grünbaum’s sister-in-law Mathilde Lukacs, who then sold them after the war to Swiss art dealer Eberhard Kornfeld.
Eventually, the Schiele works from Grünbaum’s collection were sold to American dealer Otto Kallir, who sold them to a variety of patrons. Kornfeld published a catalogue of Schiele artworks in 1956 that contained no mention of Lukacs, however, Kornfeld himself testified in 2007, claiming he did purchase the works from Lukacs. While Kornfeld presented documents corroborating this account, Grünbaum’s heirs dismissed the documents as either forgeries or fakes; neither the lower court nor the appellate court considered them to be substantial evidence.
The heirs’ attorney told
the New York Times
the works are at Christie’s and will be auctioned in November. He said their estimated worth is around $7 million.