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Nazi Looted Art: Murder, Mystery, and Masterpieces. Fritz Grünbaum -A Family’s Decades-Long Search for Truth

March 19, 2024 6:00 PM – 7:15 PM

Alumni Reading Room

Painting of a woman laying down, hiding her face.

Fritz Grünbaum was a well-known cabaret performer, librettist, writer, film actor, and director in interwar Vienna, known for his clever and ironic humor. He was also well-known art collector, especially of Austrian modernist art. His extensive art collection, totaling 450 pieces––80 of which were by Expressionist painter Egon Schiele––was looted in its entirety by Nazi agents in 1938. Grünbaum was deported to the Dachau concentration camp where he was killed in January 1941. His wife, Elisabeth, was forced to turn over their art collection and was also deported and killed the following year. Between 1933-45, the Nazis stole an estimated 50,000 works of art, the majority from Jewish families who were murdered in the Holocaust.

This talk considers one of the art world’s longest-running Holocaust restitution cases. It follows the path of the Grünbaum’s and their artworks and the ways in which their heirs––through State and Federal courts–– have sought justice for more than a quarter of a century. In September 2023, seven works were returned from several leading art museums among them the Museum of Modern Art and the Morgan Library & Museum in New York.

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