When the U.S. District Court in New York recently transferred Leone Meyer’s case seeking restitution of the Camille Pissarro painting La bergère rentrent des moutons (which it had earlier dismissed), we wondered whether the move closer to the painting might prove useful for Meyer. That is to say, would renewed attention prompt non-judicial activity? The Oklahoman has taken notice too, with an in-depth article recently (I am quoted in the print article).
We didn’t have to wait long. After last year’s expression of interest by certain legislators, twenty-six Oklahoma legislators have proposed a resolution. It calls for the Fred Jones, Jr. Museum at the University of Oklahoma to restitute the painting to Meyer (the museum received it as a bequest from Aaron and Clara Weitzenhofer in 2000), and to research its remaining collection for any other provenance issues. The resolution’s sponsor Paul Wesselhöft said: “These 26 authors who filed this resolution want to be on the right side of history.”
The museum responded to the resolution with a statement of its own:
There has been no evidence — or even suggestion — that the family or the university were somehow involved in or complicit with any inappropriate activity. [O]ur goal continues to be to seek a mutually acceptable resolution to Plaintiff’s claim or, if she prefers, to continue with the legal process and abide by the results.
The resolution is not a law, or even a bill, so for the moment it is symbolic. Coverage in Oklahoma discusses settlement talks, but the sides still seem far apart.