In 2015, Nagy exhibited both artworks at the Salon of Art + Design fair in New York, where they were seized accordingly with the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery (HEAR) Act of 2016. This American legislation allows those seeking to recover art and other heritage stolen by the Nazi to have their cases judged on the facts, and not limited by legal barriers such as statute limitations. In this particular case, it allowed the plaintiffs to make claims on Nazi-stolen artwork within the limit of six years after its “actual discovery”.

Salon of Art + Design New York Salon of Art + Design New York. ARR.

Nagy maintained that he had purchased the drawings (Woman Hiding Her Face and Woman in a Black Pinafore) legally, but Judge Charles Ramos, in New York, ruled in favour of Grunbaum’s heirs. The art dealer has announced he plans to appeal this decision.

Fritz Grunbaum was a major Austrian Jewish cabaret artist, and an art-enthusiast, possessing a 449-piece collection, which was confiscated by the Nazi when he was arrested in 1938.

Woman in a Black Pinafore (1911), Egon Schiele Woman in a Black Pinafore (1911), Egon Schiele. ARR.

Restitution cases are increasingly important in recent years, with a few landmark discoveries spanning the search for artwork heirs and provenance history. In 2012, 1,500 stolen artworks where found in the Munich flat of Cornelius Gurlitt, son of a notorious Third Reich art dealer. In March 2018, the Louvre dedicated a new space to art stolen by the Nazis, and still in the Museum’s collection for lack of legal owner.