The French Léone Meyer left her legal battle against the University of Oklahoma, to which he claimed a painting of Camille Pissarro that was plundered by the Nazis from his parents adopted, and renounced his ownership of the work. “I have made the decision to renounce all my rights to this painting. And also to renounce my title of owner in favor of the foundation of the University of Oklahoma,” she said in a statement.
After this decision, the case is closed before the Justice, which was to rule this Wednesday on the ownership of the work ‘La Bergère rentrant des moutons’ (‘Shepherdess regrouping the sheep’) in the Meyer process against the American university.
The 81-year-old heiress has reached a agreement with the university to modify a contract reached in 2016, and that she had denounced for having felt obliged to sign it, whereby the painting will rotate three years between Oklahoma and another three in a French public institution.
In May, during the first hearing, Justice leaned in favor of USA by analyzing only the contract signed by the parties in 2016, while Meyer expected the 1945 decree to apply according to which every owner of a work looted by the Nazis is an owner “in bad faith”.
‘Shepherdess regrouping the sheep’
Since the 1990s, Meyer had tried to locate the work, painted by the Impressionist in 1886, and which until 1941 was owned by his adoptive father, Raoul Meyer. He located it in 2012 in the museum of the foundation of that entity. “For almost ten years I have fought to obtain that the restitution of a looted work of art occurs independently of any other consideration related to its origin, its history or its successive owners, “he added in the letter.
Picture, estimated at 1.5 million euros ($ 1.8 million), has been provisionally exhibited in the Parisian Museum of Orsay from 2017 until next July 21, when it will return to the United States.
Meyer lost his parents and siblings in the Auschwitz concentration camp and was adopted by Raoul Meyer from an orphanage when she was seven years old. In 1951, his adoptive father found in Switzerland the work of Pissarro that had been stolen from him in 1941, but the Swiss Justice considered that the crime had prescribed.
The painting ended up in the hands of a private American collector who donated it to the Fred Jones Junior University art museum in Oklahoma in 2000, despite the fact that it was on a list of property looted in France. When Mrs. Meyer located him in 2013, the museum refused to return it and proposed an agreement in 2016 that stipulated that the work would rotate every three years between Oklahoma and the museum to which she gave permission to exhibit as long as the American institution validates the choice. But the Musée d’Orsay, whom Meyer had proposed, turned down the offer because of the transportation and administration difficulties involved in the alternation.
“Some will regret this perpetual roaming and others will rejoice, but students at the University of Oklahoma will remember that this work belonged to Yvonne and Raoul Meyer and was looted in France in 1941,” Meyer added.