NORMAN, Okla. – An update on the possible Nazi loot hanging in the art museum on the University of Oklahoma’s campus.
A woman in France is suing the university to get the Camille Pissarro painting, Sherpherdess Bringing in Sheep.
She says it belonged to her father, but Nazis stole it when he fled their home in France to avoid concentration camp.
Now, Oklahomans are pressuring OU to return the painting.
One State Rep. stood in front of the Warren Theater handing out flyers which call on OU to return the painting.
There is a reason he chose the location. The movie, “Monuments Men”, was just released there.
It depicts the real life account of Nazis stealing precious art during WWII.
Meanwhile, questions swirl around the Pissarro piece hanging in OU’s museum. People want to know if it was once in the hands of Hitler’s men.
“I feel very strongly about this,” said Rep. Wesselhoft, (R) District 54.
The lawmaker handed out his flyers Friday to people who had just seen the movie.
“I hope the movie will inspire a movement here in Oklahoma for people to put some pressure on the university to return that art to the lady that it belongs to. That’s the right and moral thing to do,” said Rep. Wesselhoft.
Leone Meyer says her father, Raoul Meyer, lost the painting to Nazis when he fled their home in France to escape concentration camps.
It ended up in the hands of an art dealer in Switzerland.
Court documents say Raoul Meyer sued the dealer to get it back, but lost the case in the Swiss court, not an uncommon ruling in the 1950s. In fact, art experts tell News Channel Four that not a single person won a recovery case on looted art in Switzerland from 1950-1956.
The dealer ended up selling the painting to a New York art dealer. That’s when the Weitzenhoffer family from Oklahoma bought the art. In 2000, the Weitzenhoffers donated their collection to OU.
Court documents say OU failed to property check the background of the art.
“It does not belong to OU,” said Rep. Wesselhoft. “OU knows who the owner is. So this is not some mysterious thing we’re seeing here.”
People with his flyer agreed. ”That’s one of those things that just can’t be replaced,” said OU Alumnus, Josh McNear. “It needs to go back where it belongs.”
“OU should talk with the family and try to reach some sort of agreement,” said Steve Byas.
In the end, security kicked the Representative off the theater’s property.
“We got the word out,” said Rep. Wesselhoft.
Having the Impressionist piece in Oklahoma, he believe, leaves a bad impression.
“I do, and I don’t plan on attending the museum until it’s given to the rightful owner,” said Rep. Wesselhoft.
OU wrote us this statement:
“While the University doesn’t comment on the particulars of any case, it is important to note that allegations in a lawsuit are just that; the litigation process is designed to test those allegations and uncover all the facts. The University monitors its litigation process closely, respects the complexity inherent in these matters, and continually evaluates its position in light of factual circumstances. We will continue to do the same in this case and look forward to a resolution of the matter.”
The court hearing has not yet been set.