Family travels to Oklahoma to view Nazi-looted art on display at OU

OKC Fox 12 May 2014
By Jordann Lucero

NORMAN - A piece of art owned by OU is the center of a legal and moral battle. A family from France is suing the university, claiming to be the rightful owners of the piece stolen by the Nazis in World War II.

"I think it's a bit of a mixed feelings for me," Raphael Meyer said after he got his first, in-person look at the "Sheperdess Bringing in the Sheep."

"It's a little bit stressing to see the painting. It's very nice, but it immediately recalls all its history," he said.

Art historian and founder of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project, Mark Masurovsky, said he has traced the painting back to Rapheal's grandfather, Raoul Meyer. Records show Raoul claimed several pieces of art stolen after the war's end and shows he was never able to recover "Sheperdess Bringing in the Sheep."

"There was a logic to all of this. It was very well organized. The Germans knew enough about these collections to go and find them, and of course being Jewish was not helpful because that was one of the primary reasons why these collections were stolen," Masurovsky said.

The university has argued it has not been able to trace the painting back to the Meyer family, so it cannot move forward.

"I am not stating that the university did not have the opportunity to do the right thing, because the significant first step... would have to be establishment [of ownership] and we are still working towards establishing that," attorney for OU Shanae Robey told FOX 25 after a legislative hearing in March.

Legislators at the Capitol will hold another hearing Monday, to help OU clarify the matter, State Rep. Mike Reynolds, R- Oklahoma City, said. 

"When more information is shared, I think the better especially in cases like this that relate art, considering that they're usually very complex," Pierre Ciric, the attorney for the Meyer family said.

State Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R- Moore, hopes publicity and the hearing will guide the university to skipping the legal process and instead settling a moral dilemma.

"I just think this university will do the right and moral thing. Frankly, I believe President Boren ultimately will do the right thing," he said.
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