Lawmakers File Resolution Calling for Return of Stolen Jewish Art

OKLAHOMA CITY – Twenty-six state lawmakers filed a resolution today calling for the University of Oklahoma to return a painting that was stolen by the Nazis in France during World War II.

‘Shepherdess Bringing in the Sheep’ is hanging in the Fred Jones Jr. Museum at the University of Oklahoma. 

Leone Meyer is legally fighting to recover her father’s painting from the university.

State Rep. Paul Wesselhöft, R-Moore, who has been among those leading the charge, said the number of authors on the resolution is unprecedented.

“I have worked tirelessly to make sure my colleagues understand the story behind the painting,” said Wesselhöft. “It is simply shameful that the University of Oklahoma would choose to resist this attempt to right a wrong. These 26 House authors who filed this resolution want to be on the right side of history. I assure you others will add their names as House authors.

House Resolution 1026 directs the University of Oklahoma and Fred Jones Jr. Museum to engage in provenance research, or looking into the chronology of the ownership and custody of an object, of its art pieces, including the ‘Shepherdess Bringing in the Sheep.’

It notes that “during the Nazi era, 1933 through 1945, as a result of actions taken by the Nazis and their collaborators in furtherance of the Holocaust, objects were acquired through theft, confiscation, coercive transfer and other methods of wrongful expropriation.”

It also notes that “museums are not only required to act legally but also ethically and morally, as well as take affirmative steps to maintain integrity so as to warrant public confidence.”

It states that museums should resolve the status of an object by making the information public and notifying potential claimants “if credible evidence of unlawful appropriation without subsequent restitution is discovered.” 

In the event that conclusive evidence is found, but no owner comes forward, the museum should acknowledge the history of the object, according to the resolution.

Finally the resolution states, “if it is determined from provenance research that an object in its collection was unlawfully appropriated during the Nazi era without subsequent restitution, the House of Representatives hereby directs the University of Oklahoma and the Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art to resolve the matter in an equitable, appropriate, and mutually agreeable manner, including restitution.”

A copy of this resolution, if approved, will be distributed to David Boren, the President of the University of Oklahoma and to each member of the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma.