VIENNA (AP).- A painting by Austrian expressionist Egon Schiele has been rehung at a Vienna museum after a 12-year possession battle over the artwork stolen by the Nazis.
The painting was returned over the weekend after the Leopold Museum agreed to pay $19 million (euro15 million) as part of the settlement. U.S. authorities had refused to return the painting after it was exhibited in New York because heirs of the owners laid a claim to it.
The painting was put on display again Monday. Leopold Museum head Peter Weinhaeupl called it a "symbolic day" for the museum.
On 20 July 2010, settlement was reached between the Leopold Museum Private Foundation (LMPF) and the Estate of Lea Bondi-Jaray with regard to the painting Portrait of Wally by Egon Schiele; according to this arrangement, the Foundation paid nineteen million dollars and had the portrait returned.
As it is widely known, the painting had been seized by a New York district court following an exhibition of LMPF-owned works at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 1998. The more than twelve years since that time have seen the work embroiled in a legal battle. Now, the painting has returned to the Leopold Museum, where it forms a triptych of sorts with Schieles Self-portrait with Lampion Fruit and the similarly iconic work Cardinal and Nun.
In any event, collector and foundation founder Rudolf Leopold viewed the painting both as an independent work and as part of this secular triptych, and the fact that Leopold did not live to see Wally finally return to his museum adds an additional bitter aspect to this painting's long history.
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