Rep. Wesselhöft Publicizes Letter from Owner of Stolen Jewish Painting Held by OU

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Paul Wesselhöft, R-Moore, On Thursday (July 16) publicized a letter he recently received from Leone Meyer, a Jewish woman from Paris, whose family is the rightful owner, according to Wesselhöft, of a stolen Jewish painting being displayed at the University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art in Norman. 

The painting, an 1886 Camille Pissarro oil painting titled Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep, was stolen by Nazi pillagers. Meyer’s entire family was later killed at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

In the letter, Meyer says her “quest carries within it a tremendous emotional burden . . . I find all of this very difficult. But I simply cannot surrender. … That is out of the question. 

Because this is also about a duty to seek justice. … I cannot conceive that the University of Oklahoma could aid and abet those crimes in any form. …”

The letter was released in conjunction with the start of a series of lectures on Nazi-stolen art. The lectures focus on theft of Jewish property during the Holocaust in Europe.

Upcoming additional lectures in the series, and their locations, are:

August 4, 2015 at 12:00 p.m. at the Cleveland County GOP Luncheon Club, which meets at the Golden Corral Restaurant in Norman.
August 18, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. at the Cleveland County Republican Woman’s Club, which meets at Olive Garden in Norman
September 10, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. at the Sooner Republican Assembly, which meets at Earls’ Barbeque Restaurant in Moore.
September 14, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. at the Liberty Republican Women’s Group, which meets at Western Sizzlin Moore I-35 and 12th Street.

Rep. Wesselhöft has been protesting and encouraging the University of Oklahoma to turn over the painting they hold, an 1886 Camille Pissarro oil painting titled “Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep,” to Leone Meyer, a Jewish woman from Paris, whose family is the rightful owner, according to Wesselhöft.

Led by Wesselhoft, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a resolution on the last day of the 2015 legislative session. The measure called on OU to research the “provenance” of the painting or others that might have similar history, and return stolen treasures to rightful owners. 

OU President David Boren has defended the University’s actions in the matter “Provenance” is “the history of ownership of a valued object or work of art or literature.” 
“Ms. Meyer is 75 years old, and is legally and emotionally fighting to recover her father’s painting,” said Wesselhöft, R-Moore. “She wants the painting returned to her family while she is able to enjoy it. The University of Oklahoma needs to make our state proud by giving this painting back to the Meyer family immediately.”

NOTE: Pat McGuigan contributed to this report.