The New York Times Saturday carried a fascinating feature on the backstory of an Egon Schiele painting to be auctioned at Sotheby’s this fall for $12 to $18 million. It was owned by a woman whose Austrian home was seized by Nazis but she lived secretly there in an apartment for another year, while an SS officer lived below. There’s also a local angle.
Elsa Koditschek sold her painting while in hiding during the war to pay “debts” to a woman who helped her hide. The work eventually found its way to an Austrian collector. Koditschek avoided capture by Nazis. Letters she’d written helped prove the provenance of the painting. An agreement has been struck between the heirs and current owner on the sale.
The local angle. One of the heirs is Sarah Whites-Koditschek, a great-granddaughter of Elsa Koditschek. She’s a former reporter for KUAR and Arkansas Public Media in Little Rock, who now works for Wisconsin Public Radio. She’s been working with her father and uncle on piecing the story together.