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It took 12 years, but the legal battle over the fate of Austrian master expressionist Egon Schiele’s 1912 portrait of his mistress has finally ended. On Tuesday Vienna’s Leopold Museum agreed to pay $19 million to the estate of a Jewish art dealer who was forced to give up the painting when she fled Nazi Europe in 1937. The painting, ” Portrait of Wally,” was seized by Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau in 1998 while on loan from the Leopold to the Museum of Modern Art and has spent most of the last decade locked in a government warehouse in Queens. Heirs of Lea Bondi Jaray claimed that Leopold Museum’s founder, Austrian are dealer Rudolf Leopold ( who died last month), knew the painting was looted by the Nazis when he acquired it after World War II. The U.S. government battled to keep the painting from being returned to Vienna, finally persuading a federal magistrate judge in 2002 that it had properly confiscated the work under the National Stolen Property Act. Last October, the Jaray estate, represented by Howard Spiegler of Herrick, Feinstein, convinced Manhattan federal district court judge Loretta Preska that the painting had been stolen by the Nazi regime and that a jury should hear its claims against the Leopold. Tuesday’s settlement came just before the July 26 trial was set to commence. Under the terms of the 17-page agreement, “Portrait of Wally” will be exhibited for three weeks at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage. It will then be returned to the Leopold’s permanent collection, where it must be displayed with a statement describing its original ownership by Jaray and the Nazi theft. Smith, Gambrell & Russell partner William Barron, who represented the Leopold, did not return our call for comment. Jaray estate counsel Spiegler told us his work on the case gave him a special appreciation both for the fate of Nazi-looted art and for Scheile’s painting itself, which he praised for its “subtle eroticism.” (Spiegler is one of only a handful of people who’ve actually seen the painting during its time in federal custody.) “It’s very gratifying to have been able to work on such an important case and to help achieve some justice for Lea Bondi’s family,” Spiegler said.

This story originally appeared in The Am Law Litigation Daily, a Law.com sibling publication.

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