Wesselhoft resolution presses for return of stolen art

OKLAHOMA CITY –– State Rep. Paul Wesselhöft, R-Moore, said this week he was disappointed that the University of Oklahoma continues to profit from 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. Visitors to the museum have been buying reproductions of the paintings sold on location.

“The Oklahoma House of Representatives, with the support of all House members present, approved a resolution directing the University of Oklahoma to conduct provenance research on its art collection,” said Wesselhöft.

“Although not having the force of law, a resolution expresses the clear will of the legislature to take action. Implied in this resolution is the fact that this university did not research some 30 or more paintings before they were accepted into their collection, one of which is definitely a painting stolen by the Nazi in France during WWII,” Wesselhoft said.

He continued, “I want the university and her president, David Boren, to do the right and moral thing by returning the art to the daughter of the original owner.

“Therefore, I and my legislative colleagues chose to place the Oklahoma House of Representatives on the right side of history.”

House Resolution 1026 affirms 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.”

The resolution also states that, “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.”

Co-sponsors of the historic resolution included: John Bennett of Sallisaw, David Brumbaugh of Broken Arrow, Kevin Calvey of Oklahoma City, Jeff Coody of Comanche & Tilman Couties, Marian Cooksey of Edmond, Doug Cox of Grove, George Faught of Muskogee, Dan Fisher of El Reno, John Paul Jordan of Yukon, Sally Kern of Oklahoma City, Dan Kirby of Tulsa, Lewis Moore of Arcadia, Glen Mulready of Tulsa, Casey Murdock of District 61, Jason Murphey of Guthrie, Tom Newell of Seminole, Leslie Osborn of Mustang, Scooter Park of District 65, Pam Peterson of Tulsa, Mike Ritze of Broken Arrow, Sean Roberts of Hominy, Seneca Scott of Tulsa, Steve Vaughan of Ponca City , Ken Walker of Tulsa, and Justin Wood of  Shawnee.
Editor’s Note: The text of the resolution which passed the state House unanimously can be read here: