UNA-NY Screening the Issues
Portrait of Wally
Please join us for this special screening to honor
Holocaust Remembrance Day
followed by a discussion with special guests
Co-producer and co-screenwriter
Liaison Officer, UNESCO
Friday, February 1, 2013
6:30 - 7:00 p.m. | Registration
Screening begins promptly at 7:00 p.m.
The New School (***new venue***)
John L. Tishman Auditorium
66 West 12th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)
New York, NY
UNA Members: $10
UNA Student Members: FREE
Guests and Non-Members: $15
You must purchase tickets in advance to attend (see below)
"Portrait of Wally," Egon Schiele's tender picture of his mistress, Walburga ("Wally") Neuzil, is the pride of the Leopold Museum in Vienna. But for 13 years the painting was locked up in New York, caught in a legal battle between the Austrian museum and the Jewish family from whom the Nazis seized the painting in 1939.
PORTRAIT OF WALLY, directed by Andrew Shea, traces the history of this iconic image — from Schiele's gesture of affection toward his young lover, to the theft of the painting from Lea Bondi, a Jewish art dealer fleeing Vienna for her life, to the post-war confusion and subterfuge that evoke THE THIRD MAN, to the surprise resurfacing of "Wally" on loan to the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan in 1997.
That year, when the heirs of art dealer Lea Bondi asked MoMA to hold the painting in New York, MoMA and the Leopold Museum dug in their heels and refused. District Attorney Robert Morgenthau issued a subpoena and launched a criminal investigation. A 13-year battle in court followed, tracking the course of a Holocaust property crime and reopening the wounds of one of the century's worst tragedies — all at a time when the prices of Egon Schiele's works rose faster than those of any painter on the art market.
Schiele collector Ronald Lauder found himself caught between several loyalties — he was chairman of MoMA and the founder of the Commission for Art Recovery, an organization committed to returning looted art to the Jews who lost it to the Nazis. Lauder sided with the Museum, and against the Jewish family. So did all the museums in New York — even the Jewish Museum.
The "Wally" case brought the story of Nazi art loot into the open, eventually forcing museums in Europe and the U.S. to search their own collections for suspect objects. Many museums ended up returning art to Jewish families who had abandoned hope until "Wally" showed that institutions could be held accountable for holding property stolen during the Holocaust. The case was resolved in dramatic fashion in the summer of 2010, but only after the history of Schiele's extraordinary painting was unearthed to revisit the crimes of the Holocaust and to witness the reluctance of major institutions in Europe and New York to send the "last prisoners of war" back to their families.
PORTRAIT OF WALLY the documentary takes you on that journey. The 13-year war over "Wally" was more than a dispute over property stolen from Jews during the Holocaust. It was a battle over history and memory. This time, the truth won.
Praise from the reviews
"If you thought a film about a painting could not possibly be as exciting as an action thriller, think again! PORTRAIT OF WALLY will change your mind, with twists and turns to rival a James Bond caper, and a cast of characters that can put any detective fiction work to shame." E. Nina Roth, Huffington Post
"Fascinating and frighteningly revelatory." David Noh, Film Journal International
"An ace legal thriller, spinning a web of shame that snags everything from the Austrian government to America's most beloved not-for-profits." Eric Hynes in Time Out New York
"A serpentine thriller." Graham Fuller, Artinfo
"A bombshell! PORTRAIT OF WALLY isn't just about stolen art: It's about cultural skulduggery, political sleaze, institutional hypocrisy and the virtues of persistence." John Anderson in Variety
"An energetic retelling of a tale well worth hearing!" George Robinson, Jewish Week
"A testament to art's baffling ability to somehow encapsulate everything and nothing of life at once, it deserves to be one of the docs that breaks into the American pop consciousness this year." Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine
"Remarkable… Riveting... Part whodunit complete with fascinating sleuthing, and part morality tale… An astonishing and informative film." Jewish Daily Forward
David D'Arcy writes and broadcasts on the cultural scene. He is a correspondent for The Art Newspaper. He is a critic for Screen International and BBC Radio, and writes about film for many publications — including the San Francisco Chronicle and The National (Abu Dhabi) — and for his blog Outtakes. He covered the arts for 21 years for National Public Radio, until the Museum of Modern Art complained to NPR about his reporting on its role in the Portrait of Wally scandal, involving a Nazi-looted painting on view at MoMA. His articles on art scandals have been published in Vanity Fair, the Economist, and Art + Auction.
Clare Stark joined UNESCO in 2005. She is responsible for promoting UNESCO's priorities and programmes on education and culture at the UN in New York, and among public and private partners in the United States. As the Secretariat for the Secretary-General's new Global Education First Initiative is with UNESCO's office in NY, she coordinates activities with UN partners and champion countries on this initiative. She is also following all relevant UN developments, particularly related to the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda.
Prior to that she was a Strategic Planning Specialist in the Bureau of Strategic Planning where she coordinated and implemented activities pertaining to the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, 2001-2010, which UNESCO was leading. She also coordinated UNESCO's contribution to the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries, contributed to the preparation of UNESCO's medium-term strategy and the biennial programme and budget, and developed various strategic documents and publications, including for Rio+20.
She has organized numerous high-level conferences and exhibitions with various UN partners, governments and civil society organizations, published articles on globalization issues and environmental conservation and coordinated and edited numerous UNESCO publications.
Before joining UNESCO, she worked with nongovernmental organizations on issues related to environmental conservation and human rights. She holds an MA in international environmental policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies (Monterey, California) and a BA in Political Science from the College of Charleston. (Charleston, South Carolina).
DISCLAIMER: All ticket sales for events are final. Please remember that your purchase represents your commitment to attend an event — there will be NO refunds issued.
NOTE: Only UNA-NY Members have guaranteed seating to all our Screening the Issues film events, and attend for free or pay the discounted Members' admission, while UNA-NY Student Members attend ALL events for free. Non-Members must purchase tickets in advance to guarantee their seats. While we do offer a pay-at-the-door policy for guests and non-members, our events are often sold-out, so we strongly encourage membership with UNA-NY to guarantee your seats! Why not take advantage?
Screening the Issues has a new venue!
UNA-NY is grateful for the generosity of the The New School university for allowing our organization the booking of the John L. Tishman Auditorium for our film-talk series, Screening the Issues.