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U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White and Customs agents stepped into an international art debate and slapped a seizure warrant upon the Museum of Modern Art for a Viennese painting purportedly plundered by the Nazis.
On Tuesday, New York's highest court blocked an attempt by Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau to keep two Egon Schiele paintings from being returned to the Leopold Foundation, an Austrian government-financed foundation based in Vienna.
On Tuesday, New York's State Court of Appeals ruled against Morgenthau and concluded that a state law blocks seizure of the artwork for virtually any reason. But within hours of that decision, U.S. Customs agents and White's office said in a statement it served a seizure warrant upon MOMA for the "Portrait of Wally" because they had reason cause to believe it was stolen.