Hudson County Community College Foundation ‘Arts Talk’ to Feature One of the Nation’s Leading Experts in Recovering Stolen Art

November 3, 2014

Sharon Cohen Levin, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Asset Forfeiture Unit, will speak about the recovery of Egon Schiele’s ‘Portrait of Wally’ at this Friday’s presentation.  


November 3, 2014, Jersey City, NJ – On Friday, November 7, 2014 at noon, Sharon Cohen Levin, the Chief of the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, will relate a story with so many twists and turns it was made into a movie. Ms. Levin will speak about the recovery of the 1912 Egon Schiele oil painting Portrait of Wally, and her role in the resolution of the case of United States v. Portrait of Wally  

Ms. Levin will be the guest speaker at the Fall 2014 presentation of Hudson County Community College (HCCC) Foundation “Arts Talk Series.” The event will be held in the Follett Room of the College’s Culinary Conference Center, 161 Newkirk Street in Jersey City – just two blocks from the Journal Square PATH Transportation Center.

Sharon Cohen Levin has played an important role in securing the return of numerous antiquities and cultural icons to foreign governments, as well as works of art and other cultural properties to their rightful owners and the families of the rightful owners.

Many of the pieces – like the Portrait of Wally – were stolen, or forcefully bought by the Nazis from Holocaust victims in the time preceding and during World War II.

Portrait of Wally tenderly depicts one of Schiele’s lovers and most frequently used models, Valerie “Wally” Neuzil. The work had been owned by Lea Bondi Jaray, who was forced to give it up while fleeing the German annexation of the Austria and Aryanization program in 1939.

Ms. Levin will describe the 13-year court battles that ensued while resolving the case, which is largely credited for focusing the attention on the return of Nazi-looted artwork.

A pioneer in the use of federal forfeiture laws to recover and return stolen art and cultural heritage property, Sharon Cohen Levin and her associates in the Southern District of New York Asset Forfeiture Unit, have recovered nearly $6 billion in crime proceeds in the past six years. The works of art have included paintings by Winslow Homer, Roy Lichtenstein and Anton Graff, drawings by Rembrandt and Dürer, statues and artifact dating back to 490 B.C., and a Tyrannosaurus Bataar skeleton looted from the Gobi desert.

Those wishing additional information about the event – as well as those who wish to R.S.V.P. – are asked to contact Dr. Andrea Siegel, the Art Coordinator of the HCCC Foundation Art Collection, by phoning 201-360-4007 or emailing asiegelFREEHUDSONCOUNTYCOMMUNITYCOLLEGE.


“Arts Talk” is a presentation of the HCCC Foundation Art Collection. E stablished eight years ago to coincide with the initiation of the College’s Fine Arts studies program, the Collection is intended to enrich the lives of the community while providing a point of reference and inspiration for the HCCC students.

The HCCC Foundation Collection’s works of art – over 800 paintings, lithographs, photographs, sculptures, and other pieces – are displayed throughout all of the buildings on the College’s Journal Square Campus in Jersey City and at the North Hudson Higher Education Center in Union City. Included are works by Donald Baechler, Leonard Baskin, Elizabeth Catlett, Christo, Willie Cole, Edward S. Curtis, Marcel Duchamp, Lisa Parker Hyatt, Rockwell Kent, Joseph Kosuth, Valeri Larko, Roy Lichtenstein, Reginald Marsh, Méret Oppenheim, Robert Rauschenberg, Man Ray, Mickalene Thomas, and William Wegman.

The HCCC Foundation Art Collection and “Arts Talk” are made possible thanks to the generosity of HCCC Foundation benefactors. Several pieces have been directly donated by individuals, estates, corporations, and other organizations.