Vienna's Leopold Museum is insisting that two Egon Schiele paintings, Dead City III (1911) and Portrait of Wally (1912), legally came into its collection after World War II, according to Die Presse newspaper. Both pictures were recently on view in "Egon Schiele: The Leopold Collection" at the Museum of Modern Art, and were subsequently seized by Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau after heirs of their pre-War owners claimed they had been stolen by the Nazis.
Dead City was owned by cabaret artist Fritz Gruenbaum, who perished at Dachau. According to press reports, documents in city archives indicate that the painting was sold in 1956 by Mathilde Lukacs, the sister of Gruenbaum's second wife, at a public sale at Klipstein and Kornfeld in Berne to the Kallir Gallery in New York, which later sold it to Rudolf Leopold.
The circumstances of the sale of Portrait of Wally are more uncertain. It may have been acquired in 1937 from Lea Bondi-Jaray by the art dealer Friedrich Welz, who "aryanised" the property of several Jewish art collectors. After the war, Wally was among several Welz pictures that were seized in an attempt to return them to their original owners. The painting seems to have been added to those restored to heirs of Schiele collector Heinrich Rieger, who died in Theresienstadt. Reiger's surviving relatives sold the picture to the Austrian Gallery, from which Leopold obtained it. Stay tuned.
Edmund P. Pillsbury, director of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth since 1980, has abruptly announced his resignation. "I've reached a plateau," he told the New York Times. "And it seems like the right moment to leave." He said he would travel and write.
FINLEY ON THE PHONE
Performance-art wizard Karen Finley launches her own 900 number on President's Day, Feb. 16, 1998. For six months, Finley will perform a daily message that can be accessed at 1-900-ALL-KAREN for $1.75 the first minute, $1.25 thereafter. The hopefully lucrative scheme is sponsored by Creative Time.
JAPAN SELLS $78,000,000 RENOIR
Pierre Auguste Renoir's 1876 painting of a party in an outdoor cafe, Au Moulin de la Galette, auctioned at Sotheby's New York in 1990 for a record-setting price of $78 million, has now been sold for a $28 million loss, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper. Bought eight years ago by Daishowa Paper Manufacturing Co. chief Ryoei Saito, who died in 1996, the picture has been bought by an unidentified buyer for $50 million. Saito said he wanted to be cremated with the Renoir as well as van Gogh's Portrait of Dr. Gachet, which he bought for $85.2 million and which now is expected to be sold by Sotheby's in a private sale.
NEW ZEALAND MUSEUM OPENS
On Feb. 14 the $186-million Museum of New Zealand opens in Wellington, N.Z., after four years of construction. Called Te Papa Tongarewa in Maori, or "the container of treasures," the multicultural museum has wall and roof carvings incorporating Chinese, Polynesian, Southern European, Celtic and even English designs, as well as space for exhibits by every iwi (Maori tribe) in the country.
WHITNEY GETS LEWITT, NADELMAN
The Whitney Museum has acquired a collection of 25 drawings, as well as gouaches and a large-scale sculpture, by Conceptual artist Sol LeWitt. The group includes the 1975 Wall Painting #263, a black-pencil drawing that covers a white wall with 16 combinations of lines in four directions; the 1996 Wall Drawing #808, seven stars in colors done at the 1996 Sao Paulo Bienal; and a giant cinderblock ziggurat designed for the museum terrace. The Whitney will take part in the LeWitt restrospective scheduled for the year 2000, according to curator Adam Weinberg.
In addition, the Whitney has acquired eight major sculptures by Elie Nadelman from the artist's son, Jan Nadelman, including the experimental bronze nude Standing Female Figure (ca. 1907) and the cherrywood Woman's Head (n.d.); the acquisition also includes eight papier-mache figurines and a group of 50 late plaster figurines. Nadelman first showed at the Whitney Studio Club in 1918 and had a 1976 retrospective at the museum, which already holds six sculptures by the artist.
FIRST SHOW OF LAVINIA FONTANA
The first U.S. exhibition of Renaissance painter Lavinia Fontana of Bologna (1552-1614) appears at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., Feb. 5-June. 7, 1998. The show includes 25 paintings, drawings and engravings by the first Italian woman to achieve financial and critical success as an artist.
PALM BEACH ART FAIR
The second edition of the Palm Beach International Art & Antique Fair, co-chaired by interior designer Mario Buatta and actress Dina Merrill, takes place Jan. 29-Feb. 8, 1997, at the International Pavilion in West Palm Beach. Some 60 dealers from the U.S., Europe and South America; will be on hand. The gala Jan. 29 preview benefits the Norton Museum of Art; tickets are $125. General admission is $12. For more info, call (516) 220-2690.
FRANKLIN FURNACE WEBS UP
The former Tribeca artists-book repository and alternative art venue Franklin Furnace has begun programming Web performances by emerging artists. Tune in every other Friday at 5 p.m. to Pseudo Programs to check it out. Sked: Halona Hilbertz, Feb. 6; Bingo Gazingo, Feb. 20; Patricia Hoffbauer, Mar. 6; John Keith, Mar. 20.
BLUHM, O'HARA ONLINE
Take a look at an online exhibition of works by painter Norman Bluhm and poet Frank O'Hara.