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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

French Woman Ends Legal Fight to Reclaim Nazi-Looted Pissarro Painting

French heiress Léone-Noëlle Meyer ended her years-long legal battle to reclaim a Pissarro painting that the Nazis stole from her adoptive parents.

“After all these years, I have no other choice but to take heed of the inescapable conclusion that it will be impossible to persuade the different parties to whose attention I have brought this matter,” Meyer, 81, said in a statement on June 1.

“I was heard but not listened to,” Meyer added.

Meyer’s French lawyer, Ron Soffer, confirmed that she has decided to end “her struggle to obtain restitution” of the 1886 La Bergère Rentrant des Moutons (Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep) painting by Camille Pissarro.

Meyer is now handing ownership of the painting to the University of Oklahoma, to whom it had been donated in 2000 by an American family who purchased it.

Meyer found the painting in the university in 2012.

In 2016, Meyer signed a contract, agreeing that the painting would undergo a three-year rotation between the United States and France. However, Meyer told French newspaper Le Monde that her American lawyer at the time “put me under pressure to accept this deal. I didn’t have a choice.”

Meyer had wanted to donate the painting to the Musée d’Orsay, where the painting is currently displayed, but the gallery had rejected the clause as too costly.

Soffer said that no public French gallery would be prepared to take the cost of sending the painting to the U.S. every three years.

“The University of Oklahoma has now obtained full title to the painting. As far as Mrs. Meyer is concerned they are free to do with it as they please,” Soffer said.

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