L. Meyer v. Bd. of Regents of
the U. of Oklahoma
Historical Background
SHEPHERDESS BRINGING IN SHEEP
• Shepherdess Bringing In
Sheep (“Bergère rentrant
des moutons”) (1886)
• [herein referred t...
THE WEITZENHOFFER BEQUEST
(2000)
• 33 impressionist paintings
• Important masterpieces such as Monet,
Corot, Renoir, Bonna...
LÉONE MEYER
• Following the murder of her entire
family at Auschwitz during World
War II, Léone Meyer was adopted
by Raoul...
Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR)
German soldiers posing with painting taken from
the National Museum of Naples Pic...
JEU DE PAUME
• The ERR had a depot at the Louvre Museum and one at a
museum known as “The Jeu de Paume.” The Jeu de Paume
...
SEIZURE OF La Bergère
• In March 1940, the Meyer family placed their art collection
in a bank safe at Crédit Commercial de...
REGISTRATION OF STOLEN
ARTWORK
• Following the liberation of Paris in August 1944 a special
commission, “Commission de Réc...
Tripartite Agreement
• The United States, France, and
Great Britain signed the
“Tripartite Agreement” on July
8, 1946. As ...
THE SWISS LITIGATION
• When Raoul Meyer brought a civil case in a Swiss court in 1953,
he had to prove that Christoph Bern...
THE CRIVELLI REPORT
• On December 16, 1996, the Federal Council of Switzerland
created the Bergier Commission, also known ...
CRIVELLI’S CONCLUSIONS
• The Swiss Government’s policies enabled the permissive
importation of looted artwork into Switzer...
PISSARRO PAINTING ENTERS U.S.
• In 1956, unbeknownst to Raoul
Meyer or his family, the Pissarro
painting entered the Unite...
UNIVERSITY OKLAHOMA
• After purchasing La Bergère
from Findlay, Clara
Weitzenhoffer brings it to
Oklahoma.
• In 2000, Clar...
SEARCH FOR La Bergère
• From 1945 up until their deaths, Léone Meyer’s parents
made numerous attempts to research the wher...
EXAMPLES OF LÉONE MEYER’S EFFORTS
• Léone Meyer retrieved documents from the French Government
and numerous listings of ar...
DISCOVERY OF La Bergère
• On March 26, 2012, Léone Meyer’s family discovered a blog
entry on the Holocaust Art Restitution...
COMPLAINT
• A complaint for the return of La Bergère was filed on May 9,
2013 in the Southern District of New York.
• On J...
TIMELINE OF EVENTS
1940
•Mar. – The Meyer family places their art collection in a bank safe at Crédit Commercial de France...
TIMELINE OF EVENTS CONT.
1952
•Raoul Meyer files a lawsuit against Bernoulli in Switzerland
1953
•The Swiss Court holds Ra...
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  • In 1941, Nazi forces looted the Crédit Commercial de France and stole an art collection, which included Pissarro's 'The Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep' (1886), owned by Parisian merchant Raoul Meyer. The painting made its way through various channels, finally ending up at the University of Oklahoma's Fred Jones Museum of Arts. Please help us convince the University to return the painting to its rightful owner, Raoul Meyer's daughter, Léone Meyer.
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Meyer ppt press revbh

  1. 1. L. Meyer v. Bd. of Regents of the U. of Oklahoma Historical Background
  2. 2. SHEPHERDESS BRINGING IN SHEEP • Shepherdess Bringing In Sheep (“Bergère rentrant des moutons”) (1886) • [herein referred to as “La Bergère”] • An Oil on canvas, by Camille Pissarro, France, 1830 – 1903 • Aaron M. and Clara Weitzenhoffer Bequest, 2000 • [Source: Fred Jones Museum]
  3. 3. THE WEITZENHOFFER BEQUEST (2000) • 33 impressionist paintings • Important masterpieces such as Monet, Corot, Renoir, Bonnard, Gauguin • Some examples:  Sara in a Dark Bonnet Tied under her Chin, c. 1901, By Mary Cassatt (1844- 1926) Pastel on paper, 22 x 17 1/2 in.  Personnages sur la plage, Trouville (People on the Beach, Trouville), 1866, By Eugène Boudin (1824-1898) Watercolor and graphite on paper, 5 1/2 x 10 in.  Coast Scene, 1893, By Paul Signac 1863- 1935) Oil on canvas, 18 1/2 x 22 in.
  4. 4. LÉONE MEYER • Following the murder of her entire family at Auschwitz during World War II, Léone Meyer was adopted by Raoul Meyer (1892-1970) and Yvonne Bader (1897-1971) in December 1946. • Upon Yvonne Bader’s death in 1971, Léone Meyer became the sole heir to both Raoul Meyer and Yvonne Bader family’s assets, including their art collection, which included the Pissarro painting.
  5. 5. Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) German soldiers posing with painting taken from the National Museum of Naples Picture Gallery Source: Wikipedia The ERR was one of several Nazi agencies engaged in the plunder of cultural property in Nazi-occupied countries during World War II. The Meyer family appeared on special listings drawn up by the ERR of Jewish collections targeted for seizure in German- occupied France.
  6. 6. JEU DE PAUME • The ERR had a depot at the Louvre Museum and one at a museum known as “The Jeu de Paume.” The Jeu de Paume served as the main processing, sorting, and distribution station for art and cultural object confiscated by the ERR all over France. • Artwork that was categorized as “undesirable” was set aside to either be sold to dealers and collectors to obtain foreign exchange, or to be exchanged for more acceptable works of art, such as European Old Masters, that could be repatriated to the Third Reich and incorporated into Nazi collections.
  7. 7. SEIZURE OF La Bergère • In March 1940, the Meyer family placed their art collection in a bank safe at Crédit Commercial de France, located in Mont-de-Marsan, France, for safe keeping. • On or around February 22, 1941, Nazi forces obtained access to the bank and seized a collection of artworks registered under the name of Mrs. Raoul Meyer. • The seized Meyer collection was sent to Jeu de Paume. La Bergère was set aside for possible exchange. The painting ended up in Switzerland between 1944 and 1946.
  8. 8. REGISTRATION OF STOLEN ARTWORK • Following the liberation of Paris in August 1944 a special commission, “Commission de Récupération Artistique” (CRA) was created to document, research the thefts of and restitute cultural assets. Unsatisfied claims were transferred to “Office des biens et intérêts privés” (OBIP). • Raoul Meyer sent an inventory of artwork taken by Nazis to the CRA. Some artwork was recovered, but not La Bergère. Raoul Meyer sent an inventory of unsatisfied claims to the OBIP. • Raoul Meyer’s artwork that was still missing was incorporated into a report titled “Répertoire des Biens Spoliés en France Durant la Guerre de 1939-1945.” This report was widely disseminated to embassies, museums and art galleries throughout Europe and the Americas.
  9. 9. Tripartite Agreement • The United States, France, and Great Britain signed the “Tripartite Agreement” on July 8, 1946. As past of its obligation under the Agreement, the U.S. State Department distributed registries of art losses, such as the “Répertoire des Biens Spoliés en France Durant la Guerre de 1939-1945” to museums, galleries, colleges and universities. • La Bergère, Raoul Meyer’s Pissarro painting was listed in one of the distributed registries. “Répertoire des Biens Spoliés en France Durant la Guerre de 1939-1945” was one of the registries distributed in by the U.S. State Department.
  10. 10. THE SWISS LITIGATION • When Raoul Meyer brought a civil case in a Swiss court in 1953, he had to prove that Christoph Bernoulli acquired the Pissarro painting with knowledge it was stolen (bad faith). The Swiss Court held that Raoul Meyer failed to prove Bernoulli acquired the Pissarro painting in bad faith. • In the US, a theft cannot convey good title. The original owner retains title to the stolen object. It does not matter if a subsequent purchaser did not know the object was previously stolen.
  11. 11. THE CRIVELLI REPORT • On December 16, 1996, the Federal Council of Switzerland created the Bergier Commission, also known as the Independent Commission of Experts (ICE). The ICE’s mandate was to investigate the volume and fate of assets moved to Switzerland before, during, and immediately after World War II. • On March 3, 1998, Pablo Crivelli, an ICE member, submitted a report titled “Internal Report-The Issue of Looted Assets (Works of Art) in the Swiss Federal Archives, 1943-1950.”
  12. 12. CRIVELLI’S CONCLUSIONS • The Swiss Government’s policies enabled the permissive importation of looted artwork into Switzerland. • The Swiss Federal agencies involved in the investigational and restitution of artwork exercised censorship over information about looted artwork that illicitly entered Switzerland. • The private sector failed to properly cooperate with governmental investigations, which further impeded the resolution of looted artwork claims. • Citing Meyer v. Bernoulli, the civil code rule in the Swiss legal system was almost unassailable in the context of works of art looted from Nazi-occupied territories and imported into Switzerland.
  13. 13. PISSARRO PAINTING ENTERS U.S. • In 1956, unbeknownst to Raoul Meyer or his family, the Pissarro painting entered the United Stated through the David Findlay Galleries, Inc. in New York from E. J. van Wisselingh & Co., an art dealer in Amsterdam, Holland. • In late 1956, Clara Weitzenhoffer acquired the Pissarro painting from David Findlay Galleries, Inc.
  14. 14. UNIVERSITY OKLAHOMA • After purchasing La Bergère from Findlay, Clara Weitzenhoffer brings it to Oklahoma. • In 2000, Clara Weitzenhoffer’s estate bequests 33 French Impressionist painting, including La Bergère to the University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.
  15. 15. SEARCH FOR La Bergère • From 1945 up until their deaths, Léone Meyer’s parents made numerous attempts to research the whereabouts of all the missing paintings from the Meyer family art collection. • Léone Meyer was equally determined to recover the missing paintings and performed an exceptional level of due diligence in her search.
  16. 16. EXAMPLES OF LÉONE MEYER’S EFFORTS • Léone Meyer retrieved documents from the French Government and numerous listings of artwork owned by private collectors. • Léone Meyer filed claims with a French special task force (“Matteoli Commission”, then “CIVS”) and filed a claims letter with the Art Loss Register in London, the worlds largest private database of lost and stolen art, antiques, and collectibles. • Léone Meyer met several times and exchanged letters with Sandrine and Lionel Pissarro, heirs to the Pissarro Estate and art dealers. • Léone Meyer hired an art expert, trustee of the “Société des Amis du Louvre” Foundation, to perform an exhaustive research on the whereabouts of La Bergère. The research produced no lead.
  17. 17. DISCOVERY OF La Bergère • On March 26, 2012, Léone Meyer’s family discovered a blog entry on the Holocaust Art Restitution Project website that indicated that La Bergère’s records at Jeu de Paume matched the Pissarro painting on display at the University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. • On December 12, 2012, Léone Meyer, through her attorney, demanded the return of the Pissarro painting from the University of Oklahoma. David Boren responded on January 18, 2013 claiming the painting was in the custody of the University of Oklahoma Foundation, not the University Oklahoma.
  18. 18. COMPLAINT • A complaint for the return of La Bergère was filed on May 9, 2013 in the Southern District of New York. • On January 10, 2014, the complaint was amended. • On February 7, 2014, the University of Oklahoma filed a motion to dismiss, most notably on the following grounds: - Lack of jurisdiction of the court - State Immunity from suits - Res judicata - Statute of limitations - Laches
  19. 19. TIMELINE OF EVENTS 1940 •Mar. – The Meyer family places their art collection in a bank safe at Crédit Commercial de France •May – Nazis invade France 1941 •Feb. – Nazi forces seize La Bergère from Crédit Commercial de France and transport it to Jeu de Paume 1942 •Jul. – La Bergère is inventoried at Jeu de Paume and set aside for possible exchange 1944-46 •Sometime between 1944 and 1946, La Bergère ends up in Switzerland 1944 •Aug. – Paris is liberated from Nazi occupation 1945 •Apr. - Raoul Meyer registers La Bergère as looted artwork 1946 •Christoph Bernoulli acquires La Bergère and sells it to Audré Maus 1951 •Raoul Meyer discovers Maus is in possession of La Bergère in Switzerland •Bernoulli regains custody and control over the Pissarro painting from Maus
  20. 20. TIMELINE OF EVENTS CONT. 1952 •Raoul Meyer files a lawsuit against Bernoulli in Switzerland 1953 •The Swiss Court holds Raoul Meyer failed to prove Bernoulli’s bad faith in acquiring La Bergère 1956 •La Bergère is exhibited at David Findlay Galleries, Inc. in New York •Aaron and Clara Weitzenhoffer purchase La Bergère from David Findlay Galleries, Inc. 2000 •Clara Weitzenhoffer’s estate bequests La Bergère to University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art 2009 •Mar. – Dr. Annette Schlagenhauff researches La Bergère, discovers documents regarding Bernoulli, and provides the documents to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art 2012 •Mar. – Léone Meyer’s family discovers the location of La Bergère •Dec. – Léone Meyer demands the return of La Bergère from the University of Oklahoma 2013 •Jan. – David Boren claims La Bergère is owned by the University of Oklahoma Foundation, not the University •May – Léone Meyer files her complaint

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