Embarrassed staff at Auckland University have admitted they have mislaid a valuable and significant painting the artist's widow fears may have been lost or destroyed.
The university bought Cock a' Heil, Cock a Teil, a painting by Tom Kreisler, in 2001.
The painting was highly personal to Kreisler, whose Austrian Jewish parents fled Vienna before the outbreak of World War II.
It uses swastikas as legs for birds, and the title is a wordplay on cockatiel. The bird, a victim, is telling a story - its teil, or tale.
The painting was put on display in the university's former department of education, then located on Anzac Ave. The department left that building in November 2005 and relocated to the university's Epsom campus - but the Tom Kreisler painting seemingly did not make the trip with it.
When the university was approached in November last year about lending the artwork for inclusion in a Kreisler retrospective exhibition planned for next year, it was unable to find it.