Alleged owner attempts to reclaim a piece of history from OU

NORMAN, Okla. – A French woman claims her family painting was stolen by Nazis and is now at the University of Oklahoma. The woman’s family spoke with Oklahoma lawmakers Monday in hopes of getting it back.

Like the title of the coveted painting, Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep, a family who claims they are the rightful owners of the piece of art is trying to bring back the painting. They say it was stolen from their family decades ago. Now, the painting is in the hands of the University of Oklahoma, but its history before it got there and where it belongs is up for debate. About two years ago, Raphael Meyer’s family learned where the painting ended up, and they have been trying to get it back ever since.

“This painting belonged to my family. It was taken by the Nazis in the 1940’s,” Meyer said. “A very painful moment, and it tends to be a little bit overwhelming.”

The painting dates back to 1887 and is worth anywhere from 500 thousands dollars to one million dollars, but the battle is not about money.

MORE: Read complete coverage of this battle between the family and OU

“It’s about trying to get a sense of justice for what was done to my mother’s family 70 years ago,” Meyer said.

Meyer spoke at the state capitol along with his attorney who says in similar cases in Europe, artwork was packed up and sent back to whoever it was taken from in the first place. The only difference those cases involved institutions run by the government and not by the public. Meyer is not ruling out loaning the painting to the university, but one things needs to be settled first.

“At this point what’s important for us right now is to get it back,” he said.

Right now the case is tied up in a New York court where a judge will have to make a decision about technical aspects of the case or will decide to schedule another hearing.