OU still won’t give painting that was stolen by Nazis back to its rightful owner…

Back in November, when I was in the middle of dealing with a two-week power outage and pre-election anxiety, the NY Times dropped an update on the battle between OU and a holocaust survivor over the ownership of a French painting that was stolen by Nazi looters way back in the 1940s.

In case you forgot, the 1886 painting – La Bergère Rentrant des Moutons – was bequeathed to OU as part of a dead Oil Overlord’s art collection in 2000. In 2012, Léone Meyer – the granddaughter of the original owner and heiress to the Galeries Lafayette fortune – discovered that OU had the piece and, rightfully, asked for the University to return it to her family.

Since the painting is worth millions of dollars, and OU – like most universities – values money over ethics and principles, they refused and the matter went to the courts. Eventually, the sides agreed to some sort of weird shared custody agreement, where Meyer could have ownership of the painting and display it in France every couple of years, and then OU could have it and display it in a football suite or whatever every couple of years.

I guess that agreement hasn’t worked out too well and now Meyer wants to keep it in France forever. Despite the fact that the artwork was stolen by Nazis, OU still isn’t ready to give up. Here’s a statement they gave to the paper:

Ms. Meyer “now inexplicably seeks to break” a settlement that “was heralded as a first-of-its-kind U.S.-France international art sharing agreement,” the university’s president, Joseph Harroz, Jr., and the University of Oklahoma Foundation president and chief executive, Guy Patton, said in a statement on Thursday.

The university has acknowledged that the painting was stolen by the Nazis from Ms. Meyer’s father, but said in the previous court proceedings that it did not want to return the work because of procedural rules and the statute of limitations. It also produced evidence that the previous owners, the Weitzenhoffer family, who bequeathed it to the university in 2000, having bought it at a New York gallery, had acted in good faith…

“For all the good faith that the OU Foundation and the University of Oklahoma have extended to Ms. Meyer, it is disappointing that she is actively working to renege on the agreement,” the statement said. “We are ready to challenge this unwarranted threat in U.S. and French courts.”

Know what else is disappointing? The University of Oklahoma won’t just give up, do the right thing, and give this lady the painting that Nazis stole from her dad back in the 1940s!

Seriously, what is going on here?? I know OU’s mascot is named after a group of people who not only stole land from Native Americans, but also law-abiding white people who were legally waiting to steal the land, but that doesn’t mean the school has to hang onto everything they own that was stolen!

Plus, it’s not like OU forked over a lot of money for the painting. It was given to them by an old rich lady. They might as well make this come full circle and give it back to another old rich lady.

The University’s decision to fight for ownership of the painting is so puzzling that they’re even making a couple of old wackos from the Oklahoma legislature look like sane, reasonable, compassionate people from the woke brigade.

Via the OU Daily:

Former Oklahoma state Reps. Mike Reynolds and Paul Wesselhöft issued a press release urging OU to allow Meyer to take full ownership of the painting and keep the piece on display in France for perpetuity.

“The University acknowledged that the painting was stolen by the Nazis from the Meyer estate, but they contend that ‘the statute of limitations’ has run out,” Wesselhöft wrote in the release…

“Other universities and museums have voluntarily given back their Nazi-plundered paintings to rightful Holocaust survivors.” Wesselhöft wrote. “OU should do the right and ethical thing and stand as a moral model to their students by volunteering to surrender their poisoned art.”

“If OU wins in the court it will be a hollow victory,” Reynolds wrote in the release. “Just imagine the painting back in the university museum as people see it and say ‘Oh … that’s the painting that OU refuses to give back to the Holocaust lady.’ What kind of model is the university setting for their students?”

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but Reynolds and Wesselhöft actually make good points. That being said, and considering the lack of knowledge and awareness most Millenials and Gen Z kids have about the Holocaust, I doubt the students will really care.

Anyway, the French courts are going to take a look at the matter in January. Hopefully, they do the right thing and let the woman keep the painting. Au revoir.

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21 Responses

  1. Is possession of stolen goods a crime?

    1. no, not if purchased in good faith with no knowledge, but lawfully a seller who also may have purchased in good faith can not confer a valid title on stolen property. Once it was looted by the nazis any subsequent transaction is invalid. Morally we know what’s the right and proper action here. Embarrassing ou is doing this. Other universities have returned nazi looted art to the rightful owners and received praise for doing the right thing.

      1. We operate on the Republican standard in this state. Isn’t the painting now in France? Didn’t I read somewhere that possession is 9/10ths of the law? Oops.

        1. yeah, pretty sure Ms. Meyer is flying the bird and saying come get it bitch. Maybe Harroz could round up a posse of roughnecks ship the schooner and ponies to France and storm the Musee d’Orsay land run style and seize the painting.

          1. Get that bonehead sheriff Chris Witt and some of his citizen posse boys to go down and get that picture back.

    2. Not when its 9/10 of the law.

  2. I’m disgusted as an OU alum that these university administrators are behaving so badly. The painting belongs to Léone Meyer. End of discussion.

  3. Boomer Looters!

  4. I really like throwing made about Sooners. Thieves in wagons and on horseback! I’ve often wondered how OU chose such to be mascots.

  5. We’re still talking about Camille Pissarro’s “Shepherdess Bringing In Sheep” (English title) 20 years after it was bequeathed to OU as part of a significant art collection, and several years after it was discovered the painting had been stolen during the Nazi Occupation of France.

    This is repulsive! Just return the damn painting to Léone Meyer and let this thing end while she’s still alive. She already has proof the painting belonged to her family, and to hell with the statute of limitations. It’s hers. BFD there’s gonna be one less painting to see at FJJMA. To someone who’s not a raging Art Nerd who just wants to visit the gallery to relax and look at pretty pictures, it won’t matter.

    I wonder sometimes if this insane battle to hold this painting as if for ransom has to do with fear of diminishing the Clara Weitzenhoffer bequest of which this is part. It’s as if OU is more afraid of losing the ego rush of being able to boast “the single most important collection of French Impressionism ever given to an American public university.” Not gonna happen, considering the bequest also has works by Van Gogh, Degas, Monet, etc. That’s pretty big if you asked me–even non Art Nerds know who they are.

    And *other* institutions, when presented with evidence of Nazi malfeasance/art theft, have returned works of art to their rightful owners. OU isn’t, and that’s a black eye.

    In fact, the Weitzenhoffer bequest (and the reputations of FJJMA and OU) is only going to be diminished as long as this crap keeps dragging on. I don’t doubt the Weitzenhoffers obtained these artworks in good faith, but how well were the histories of these things vetted? That should be an ongoing thing, considering that 75 years after the end of World War II, there are still missing/misplaced artworks that had been plundered by the Nazis in the territories they occupied.

    1. Gosh, I love a well-written, logical post like this one.

      1. Thank you that made my day.

  6. Got a strong hunch this work isn’t the only nazi looted art in the collection. That could be the fear.

  7. “Yeah, the painting was looted, but we have it now and the statute of limitation has lapsed. Too bad for you.”


  8. Well Harroz is Lebanese for god’s sake, he’s got it in for the jews. Plus, he’s a stinkin’ lawyer, so what do you expect?

  9. Next time I get caught with a stolen vehicle I’ll try that one on the Judge. I suppose I should wait to see if that bs line works first.

  10. Just give it back.

  11. What OU is relying on is an agreement Ms. Meyer and the university made to settle all the litigation that was going on regarding this painting. She now wants out of that contract and is making claims that OU (and the courts) believe were all settled. The ownership issue has been resolved in OU’s favor. Now, whether their continued “ownership” position is the morally right thing to do is certainly debatable, they have the legal right to the position they’re taking.

    1. Not according to French law- a seller cannot confer valid title on stolen property. Now the painting is on her turf and she’s saying suck it bitches, ou boren harroz.

  12. OU is on the wrong side of history on this one. OU is my Alma Mater but I have to call foul on this shenanigan. Do the right thing and relinquish rites to the painting.

  13. Didn’t FJJMA lose a Director several years ago over this type of issue(s) with the Weitzenhoffer collection?
    Do the right thing by returning the work.

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