U of Oklahoma to return Nazi-looted painting in settlement


(JTA) — The University of Oklahoma has agreed to give up ownership of an Impressionist painting looted by the Nazis.

In a settlement agreement announced Tuesday, the university will transfer ownership of Camille Pissarro’s “Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep” to Leone Meyer. The painting was part of a large collection owned by Meyer’s father, department store owner Raoul Meyer, that was seized by the Nazis in 1941.

The settlement agreement acknowledges that Leone Meyer is the proper heir to the painting, but says that Clara Weitzenhoffer, who donated it to the university in 2000, acted in good faith when she and her husband purchased the artwork.

According to a fact sheet provided by Leone Meyer’s attorneys, the settlement stipulates that the painting will be on public display at an art museum in France for five years, after which it will rotate between the university’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art and the French institution. The settlement also says that when publicly displayed, the painting is to be accompanied by a label detailing the history of the painting and its restitution. Leone Meyer, according to the agreement, will donate the painting to a French art museum either during her lifetime or through her will.

“Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep” changed hands several times before a Swiss court ruled in 1953 that Meyer had not proven the owner’s bad faith in possessing it. Meyer’s daughter, Leone Meyer, filed a lawsuit against the University of Oklahoma in May 2013.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article erroneously reported that the university would share the painting with a still unnamed French museum. In fact, it will transfer ownership to Leone Meyer. It also mischaracterized a 1953 Swiss court ruling, in which Raul Meyer, whose art collection was looted during World War II, was unable to prove the owner’s bad faith in possessing the painting. The date of Leone Meyer’s lawsuit against the university was incorrect; the initial filing was in May 2013.


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