Nazi-looted painting should return to OU, federal judge rules

The Oklahoman 21 November 2020
By Nuria Martinez-Keel

An Oklahoma City federal judge has denied a French woman’s attempt to keep a Nazi-stolen painting out of a Norman art museum.

U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton said efforts by Leone Meyer, 81, to keep the painting in France would violate her 2016 settlement with the University of Oklahoma.

During a Friday court hearing, Heaton ruled Meyer is still legally bound to follow the settlement. He ordered her to stop litigating the case in France.

“It does seem to me the result of this case is pretty clear,” Heaton said. “I find Ms. Meyer’s position here pretty incredible.”

Meyer, of Paris, agreed with OU in 2016 to share the 1886 painting “Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep” by Camille Pissarro. Meyer’s family lost the artwork to Nazi looting during World War II.

The painting is to rotate between the Musee d’Orsay in Paris and OU’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman.

“We are thankful for the court’s issuance of this cease and desist, supporting OU’s position in the case,” OU President Joseph Harroz, Jr. said in a statement. “The ability to view a painting with such important and deep historical significance presents a tremendous educational opportunity for OU students and museum visitors.”

“Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep” has been on display since 2016 at the Musee d’Orsay, where Meyer wishes to donate the artwork permanently. The settlement dictates the painting spend three years in the Fred Jones Museum, starting July 16.
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