French Holocaust survivor drops fight with University of Oklahoma over Nazi painting of Pissarro
June 3 (UPI) – The descendant of a French art collector whose collection was confiscated by the Nazis during World War II has abandoned her legal attempt to permanently recover a painting by Camille Pissarro.
Léone-Noëlle Meyer, 81, said on Tuesday she had “no choice” but to drop the case as she was threatened with heavy fines if she continued to try to keep the board The Shepherdess Returning from the Sheep definitely in France.
It ends a multi-year battle between the Holocaust survivor and the University of Oklahoma, which held the painting for decades.
“After all these years, I have no choice but to take into account the inescapable fact that it will be impossible to persuade the different parties to whom I have brought this case,” she said in a statement. communicated. “I was heard but not listened to.”
The work Pissarro belonged to Léone-Noëlle Meyer’s parents, Raoul Meyer and Yvonne Meyer, who adopted it at the age of 7 in a Parisian orphanage after the death of her biological family during the Holocaust.
The Meyers hid their art collection in a French bank safe when they fled Paris during the Nazi occupation, but the invading force seized the contents. Pissarro’s painting ended up in the hands of a Swiss art dealer before finally landing in the collection of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at OU. Jones, a philanthropist, purchased the painting in the 1950s and it became the gem of the museum’s collection.
Léone-Noëlle Meyer filed a complaint against the school in 2014 to recover the painting. The two parties reached an agreement in 2016 according to which Léone-Noëlle Meyer would take possession of the painting, but it would be exhibited by rotation between the OU and in a museum in France. The title of the painting would ultimately be held in the hands of a French museum.
Léone-Noëlle Meyer has, however, sought to modify the terms of the agreement in recent months so that it remains permanently in France. It is currently on display at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and is expected to return to Oklahoma later this year. Léone-Noëlle Meyer wanted to keep the painting at the Parisian institution.
The University of Oklahoma said it plans to honor the 2016 agreement to rotate the painting between its museum and a French institution every three years.
Léone-Noëlle Meyer “transferred the title, interests and all permanent ties with Pissarro’s painting to the OU Foundation,” the school said, according to the New York Times. “In turn, the OU parties have agreed to identify and transfer ownership to a French public institution or to the American art program at embassies, subject to the original rotating public display agreement of three years of the parties. ”