The University of Oklahoma is returning a painting that had been stolen by the Nazis during World War II after a long fight with the painting’s rightful owner.
Under the terms of the settlement, the title of Camille Pissarro’s 1886 “Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep” will be transferred to Léone Meyer, a French Holocaust survivor whose father owned the painting when it was stolen by Nazis.
The painting had been displayed in the University’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman.
State Rep. Paul Wesselhoft said the University of Oklahoma, and specifically university president David Boren, was morally wrong for not giving the the painting back sooner.
“I wish a couple of years ago that OU would have given that painting and had done the right thing and moral thing and given it up to the family," Wesselhoft said. “But they chose to litigate and probably spend over a million dollars in taxpayers money fighting this.”
Former state Rep. Mike Reynolds also suggested this painting isn't the only stolen artwork on display by OU.
“One of the paintings we believe to be stolen is a $20 million Van Gogh,” Reynolds said. “Unfortunately, that painting is probably from the Netherlands where the Nazi’s exterminated 95 percent of Jews.”
As part of the deal with OU, “Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep” will be on display on a rotating basis between the university and France.
A spokeswoman for the university said no tax dollars were used during court battles over the painting.