Spany, Ferdinand

Ferdinand Spany

Schwarzer Grabstein

26 March 1897 Vienna – 1 October 1983 Vienna

Before becoming involved in the art market, Ferdinand Spany worked as a transportation clerk for the E. Bäuml company. In 1921 he became managing director of Kunstauktionshaus Leo Schidlof, before starting his own business as an art and antiques dealer four years later. He was arrested in 1927 in connection with the attempted sale of an alleged Rubens painting and sentenced four years later to ten months' imprisonment for misappropriation and fraud. Other convictions for minor bodily harm, insult to a person's honour and misappropriation followed. After the annexation in 1938, Spany worked for the temporary administrators Rudolf Maier and Andreas Käs from the Abwicklungsstelle für die Liquidierung und Arisierung des Uhren- und Juwelenfaches (Office for Liquidation and Aryanization of the Clock and Jewellery Sector). In this capacity he was involved in the liquidation of the estate of Jakob Futterweit and the company Kauftheil & Müller. Taking advantage of the predicament that Jews in his wider circle found themselves, Spany also organized apartments and passports against payment, which again led to criminal proceedings before the Vienna Landesgericht (provincial court). He was sentenced to several months' imprisonment in 1940 for inciting and abetting the abuse of office. Because of his criminal record, Spany, who had applied to join the NSDAP in 1938, was denied membership of the Party and the Reichskammer der bildenden Künste (Reich Chamber of Fine Arts). He was also expelled for the same reason in 1941 from the SA, which he had joined in 1938. At the end of 1942 he moved with his wife and four children into an Aryanized four-room apartment at Hegelgasse 6 in the 1st district and rented two rooms in the apartment of Ludmilla Wotawa, whom he had known since 1925, at Landstraßer Hauptstraße 58 in the 3rd district as an office. From April 1943 to April 1945 he was conscripted to a heavy anti-aircraft battery on the Bisamberg.

In spite of several pending court cases after the war, he continued to work successfully as an art and antiques dealer. When he was arrested again in September 1945, the criminal police seized and inventoried some of the large collection of art objects in Spany's apartment and office, valued at over 40,000 Reichsmarks. The preliminary investigations against him and Wotawa by the Vienna Volksgericht on suspicion of illegal enrichment under § 6 of the Kriegsverbrechergesetz (War Criminals Act) on account Spany's buying and selling activities in connection with Vugesta, the Vermögensverkehrsstelle (Property Transaction Office) and Dorotheum were abandoned in 1950. Nevertheless, some art and interior furnishing objects were returned in out-of-court settlements, for example to Anna Stein. In 1952 Spany was ordered by the Restitution Commission to return the apartment in Hegelgasse to the claimant. In the early 1950s a further case concerning the sale of artworks from the collection of Josef and Cäcilie Lilienthal ended in an out-of-court settlement. Five years after the death of his first wife Josefine, Spany married Ludmilla Wotawa in 1962. In the 1960s and 1970s he made donations, sometimes with her, to the Österreichische Galerie and the city of Vienna. Spany also had good relations with rector and later director of the Akademie der bildenden Künste (Academy of Fine Arts) Alfred Sammer. In 1970 he gave him a painting by Koloman Moser "in fond memory". Four years later, Spany was given the title professor on application of the Academy and in 1983 he was awarded the Goldenes Ehrenzeichen der Republik Österreich (Gold Medal of Honour of the Republic of Austria) for his contribution to the rediscovery of the artists Max Kurzweil and Bernhard Zdichinec, the donation of valuable artworks to the Österreichische Galerie and his research on the pan-European idea. He also received the Goldenes Verdienstzeichen des Landes Wien (Gold Medal of Merit of the Province of Vienna) and the Certificate of Honour of the Akademie der bildenden Künste. After his death in 1983 he was buried in an honorary grave in the Central Cemetery.

Objects with provenance relating to Spany can be found in the holdings of the City and Provincial Archive of Vienna, the Vienna City Library, the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere and the Graphic Collection of the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Wien. On the initiative of the Commission for Provenance Research and in collaboration with the Vienna City Library, the honorary status of Spany's grave was removed by the city of Vienna. It remained a "historical grave to be tended for the duration of the cemetery". Although it no longer had "honorary status", the city continued to be responsible for "tending and maintaining the grave".

Author Info
Publications about the person / institution

Akademie der bildenden Künste (Hg.), Bernhard Zdichinec. Ein Altmeister der österreichischen Malerei. 1883–1968. Gedächtnisausstellung im Februar 1974. Wien 1974.

Gabriele Anderl/Edith Blaschitz/Sabine Loitfellner/Mirjam Triendl/Niko Wahl, "Arisierung" von Mobilien (= Veröffentlichungen der Österreichischen Historikerkommission. Vermögensentzug während der NS-Zeit sowie Rückstellungen und Entschädigungen seit 1945 in Österreich 15), Wien-München 2004, URL: (3.12.2020).

Felix Czeike, Historisches Lexikon Wien 5, Ru–Z und Nachtrag zu den Bänden 1–4, Wien 1997.

Friedhöfe Wien, Ehrengräber am Wiener Zentralfriedhof, Ferdinand Spany, 198, URL: (3.12.2020).

Handbuch der Stadt Wien, Bd. 1976, 243, 257, URL: (19.5.2021).

Handbuch der Stadt Wien, Bd. 1984, 205, URL: (19.5.2021).

Handbuch der Stadt Wien, Bd. 1985, 277, URL: (19.5.2021).

Gunther Martin, Wiener Originale (1): Ferdinand Spany. 60 Jahre voller Bilder, in: Wien aktuell (1977) 4, 24–26.
Gunther Martin, Wien – Hauptstadt der Vereinigten Staaten von Europa. Josef Drach und sein vergessenes Projekt aus dem Wien der zwanziger Jahre, in: Wien aktuell 2 (1982), 14–15.

Fritz Novotny/Hubert Adolph, Max Kurzweil, Ein Maler der Wiener Secession, Wien-München 1969.

Österreichische Galerie in Wien (Hg.), 58. Wechselausstellung, Max Kurzweil 1867–1916, Oberes Belvedere, 30. November 1965 – 15. März 1966, Wien 1965.

Gerd Pichler, Koloman Moser. Die Gemälde. Werkverzeichnis, Wien 2012, WV113, 122.



N. N., Betrug, in: Wiener Zeitung, 19.2.1927, 4, URL: (3.12.2020).

Arbeiter-Zeitung, 20.2.1927, 6.

N. N., Aufgebote. Ferdinand Spany, in: Amtsblatt zur Wiener Zeitung 96, 26.4.1927, 14, URL: (3.12.2020).

Aemilian, Sechs Monate Gefängnis für einen Rubens. Weil die Liechtenstein-Galerie den "Trunkenen Silen" bedenkenlos verkauft hat, wird ein Wiener Kunsthändler in Paris eingesperrt, in: Der Morgen. Wiener Montagblatt, 1.8.1927, 3–4 (Ankündigung 1), URL: (3.12.2020).

N. N., Der "Trunkene Silen" verkauft, in: Illustrierte Kronen Zeitung, 22.3.1929, 7, URL: (3.12.2020).

N. N., Rubens-Bild nach Amerika verkauft. Eines der kostbarsten Gemälde der Wiener Liechtenstein-Galerie, in: Tages-Post, 22.3.1929, 14, URL: (3.12.2020).

N. N., Streit um ein Rubens-Bild, in: Freiheit!, 13.4.1931, 2, URL: (3.12.2020).

N. N., Betrügerische Bildergeschäfte, in: Reichspost, 13.4.1931, 5, URL: (3.12.2020).

N. N., Betrügerische Bildergeschäfte, in: Reichspost, 14.4.1931, 9–10, URL: (3.12.2020);

N. N., Aus dem Gerichtssaal. Betrügerische Bildergeschäfte, in: Reichspost, 15.4.1931, 9, URL: (3.12.2020);

N. N., Gerichtssaal. Die Rubens-Kopie aus der Liechtenstein-Galerie, in: Neues Wiener Tagblatt, 16.4.1931, 9, URL: (3.12.2020).

N. N., Aus dem Gerichtssaal. Der Prozeß wegen betrügerischer Bildergeschäfte, in: Reichspost, 16.4.1931, 9, URL: (3.12.2020).

N. N., Die verwickelte Geschichte eines Rubens-Bildes. Strafanzeigen des Kunsthändlers Spany, in: Illustrierte Kronen Zeitung, 26.3.1932, 6, URL: (3.12.2020).

N. N., Milliardenprozeß um ein Rubensbild, in: Illustrierte Kronen Zeitung, 5.6.1934, 11, URL: (3.12.2020).

N. N., Nachspiel zum Wohnprozeß. Bestechungen und "Gefälligkeiten", in: Kleine Volks-Zeitung, 17.7.1940, 8, URL: (3.12.2020).

N. N., Aus dem Gerichtssaal, in: Neues Wiener Tagblatt, 17.7.1940, 7, URL: (3.12.2020).


BDA-Archiv, Restitutionsmaterialien, K. 47, PM Ferdinand Spany.

Justizzentrum Wien Mitte, BG Innere Stadt Wien, Verlassenschaftssache 9A 764/83, Ferdinand Spany.

OeStA/AdR, ZNsZ, Gauakt 207.500, Ferdinand Spany.
OeStA/AdR, PK, Verleihungsakt Ferdinand Spany.

UAAbKW, Protokollbuch 2.10.1972–22.11.1977, Eintrag 130/1974-75.

Wienbibliothek im Rathaus, MA 9, Akt 1290/76, Ferdinand Spany.

WStLA, BG Innere Stadt, A4/3 – 3A, Verlassenschaft Josefine Spany, geb. Soucek.
WStLA, Gauakten, A1-'Gauakten', Personalakten des Gaues Wien Ferdinand Spany, geb. 26.3.1897.
WStLA, Historische Wiener Meldeunterlagen, Meldeauskunft Ferdinand Spany.
WStLA, LG für Strafsachen, A11, Vr-Strafakten, Vr 2141-40, Ferdinand Spany u. a.
WStLA, LG für Strafsachen, A11, Vr-Strafakten, Vr 2142-40, Ferdinand Spany u. a.
WStLA, LG für Strafsachen, A11, Vr-Strafakten, Vr 4861-39, Heinrich Mayer u. a.
WStLA, M.Abt. 119, A41, VEAV C805, 1. Bez., Ferdinand Spany.
WStLA, M.Abt. 119, A41, VEAV 249, 25.Bez., Ferdinand Spany.
WStLA, M.Abt. 119, A42, NS-Registrierung, Ferdinand Spany.
WStLA, Nachlass Spany, Ferdinand.
WStLA, Volksgericht, A1, Vg 2d Vr 2251/45, Ferdinand Spany, Veitschberger, Wotawa.
WStLA, Volksgericht, A1, Vg 11 Vr 6357/46, Rudolf Maier.