The collection of the Leopold Museum mainly consists of the former private art collection of Prof. Dr. Rudolf Leopold (1925-2010). Since its foundation in 1994, the Leopold Museum - Private Foundation always attached primary importance to the provenance of its art objects.
When two Schiele paintings were confiscated in early 1998 after an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, it was the prelude to a large-scale debate in Austria. The litigation on „Portrait of Wally Neuzil“ was only settled in 2010.
The provenance research of the Leopold Museum is guided by methodical standards of European and American museums.
As a private foundation, the Austrian Art Restitution Law of 1998 (which entitles the Republic to restitute art) cannot be applied. However the Foundation tries to live up to the standards set up at the „Washington Conference on Holocaust Era Assets“ in 1998 and seeks „just and fair“ solutions in every case when it is proven that an art object was involved in eminent domain during the Nazi-era.
In regard to the provenances of its art objects, the Leopold Museum cares about maximal transparency and informs the public by lectures, guided tours and publications on the history of its art objects and their former owners.
Joint provenance research
In May 2008, the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture together with the Leopold Museum – Private Foundation established a joint provenance research aiming to examine and document the provenances of all art objects of the museum independently. Since then, Mag. Dr. Sonja Niederacher and MMag. Dr. Michael Wladika examine the provenances of all art objects that were created before 1938 beginning with the works by Egon Schiele. The research findings on particular works are constantly published.
Besides that, the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture set up a board chaired by former federal minister Dr. Nikolaus Michalek. On the basis of the dossiers, the board shall decide whether the Austrian Art Restitution Law I 1998/181 as amended by I 2009/117 would be applicable to the respective art objects if they were property of the Republic of Austria. The respective resolutions will be published as well. Therefor the public interested in those cases gains insight into the entire work of the joint provenance research.
In regard to the provenances of its art objects, the Leopold Museum cares about maximal transparency and informs the public by lectures, guided tours and publications on the history of its art objects and their former owners. As hitherto we will answer to all enquiries concerning the provenance of art objects as quickly as possible.