Jewish artwork returned to estate of rightful owner

CHRISTIE'S has announced the upcoming auction of an extremely rare watercolour landscape painting - Town on the Blue River (1910) - which was stolen from an Austrian Jew before the Second World War.

The announcement follows the resolution of a restitution agreement with the estate of Fritz Grunbaum, a Viennese Jewish cabaret performer who died in the Dachau concentration camp in 1941.

In 1998, the plight of Mr Grunbaum and his death in Dachau gained international headlines when District Attorney Robert Morgenthau seized Dead City III from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, where Town on the Blue River was also hung.

Dead City III, together with 80 other artworks by Egon Schiele, were in Grunbaum's apartment in Vienna when the Gestapo arrested him on March 22, 1938, and deported him to Dachau, where he was murdered.

Recent films such as George Clooney's Monuments Men and The Rape of Europa, based on Allied efforts during the war to recover art stolen by the Nazi regime, have rekindled interest in recovering artworks that belong to Jewish families.

The auction will be held on November 5.