In the simple “I Love Antithesis” painting, a bearded man wrapped in a red coat looks forward with an exhausted, confused expression.
The work by Austrian painter Egon Schiele (1890-1918) in the Expressionist tradition is valued at $2.75 million and will now be returned, along with six other paintings by the artist, to the heirs of Fritz Grünbaum, an Austrian Jew who was murdered at Dachau in January 1941.
The Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA praised the legal team that made the seizure possible, including Manhattan District Attorney Bragg Alvin Bragg.
It stated: “We hope that Mr. Bragg’s actions will signal a new chapter in which state and federal Officials will use the full powers of their offices, including criminal laws relating to stolen property, to defeat the egregious tactics of museums, collectors and governments, who spend millions of dollars trivializing and denying the true history of the Holocaust to justify holding onto Nazi loot.”
Schiele was known for his colorful portraits, many of which featured nudity and landed the artist in legal jeopardy as a result. The Nazis judged Schiele’s work as “degenerate art”—and not just confiscated and resold it but also had his works destroyed.
Like Grunbaum, Schiele suffered a tragic end, dying at the age of 28 from the Spanish flu three days after the disease killed his pregnant wife, Edith.