University of Oklahoma reaches settlement over painting stolen by Nazis

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NORMAN, Okla. - Controversy over a painting hanging in a University of Oklahoma art museum is finally settled.

OU has reached an agreement with the original owners.

The painting, 'Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep,' was stolen by the Nazis during World War II.

Years later, it was donated to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman.

Lawmakers, Tuesday, spoke about the settlement, saying it's about time the issue was resolved.

While the painting is still hanging at OU, by this summer, it will be gone, sent back to France to hang in a museum there.

However, that will not be its final destination.

“This victory for the family is also a victory for those murdered in the Holocaust,” said Eric Sundby, an OU student who has believed the painting should be returned.

“I don't think Ms. Meyer ever had in mind to put this in her bedroom. She wanted it to be on public display,” said Rep. Paul Wesselhoft.

The settlement reached this week between Léone Meyer and OU means the title of the painting will now bear her name.

Meyer’s attorney, Pierre Ciric, tells us the painting will be sent to France this summer where it will be on public display at an undetermined museum.

It will stay there for five years.

Ciric said, after those five years, the painting will go into a continuous rotation, spending three years at OU and then three years at another museum in France.

“It will not be in Ms. Meyer's home. It will be on public display, because that's the way she wanted it,” Wesselhoft said.

Ciric said Meyer is pleased with the agreement.

OU released the following statement:

“The university is pleased that a constructive agreement has been reached. The rotating display of the work meets the university’s long-stated goal to ensure the painting remains available to Oklahomans and that it continues to be available for educational purposes. We are glad that the agreement recognizes the good faith and generosity of the Weitzenhoffer family, which has been one of the most generous donors in the university's history.  Likewise, we are pleased to have found a way to reach an arrangement agreeable to the Meyer family.”

“Frankly, the history behind this painting is probably as important as the painting itself even though it's a very famous painting,” Wesselhoft said.

Wesselhoft has also been a proponent to get the painting returned to Meyer.

He spoke Tuesday about the settlement.

He also said he believes the university needs to check the origin of other pieces of art within the museum to make sure there aren’t other paintings with a similar background.

“I hope OU learns their lesson and, in the future, does proper research on all of their paintings,” Wesselhoft said.

The Meyer family attorney tells us they do not yet know which museum the painting will be going to.

That is something that is still in the works, however, the settlement means the painting will always be on public display even after Meyer passes away.

The title will, at that point, be transferred to someone whom she wills it to.

Her attorney said she can also choose to donate the painting, however, as part of the settlement, it cannot be sold or auctioned.