Art Law Report

Léone Meyer and University of Oklahoma Settle Nazi-looted Pissarro Dispute

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 24, 2016 at 2:29 PM

In December it was announced that the University of Oklahoma and Leone Meyer had reached a tentative settlement in the litigation over Meyer’s claims to La Begère by Camille Pissarro, a painting stolen from her father Raoul during the Vichy regime.  Yesterday the final agreement was made public.  As reported by Graham Bowley at the New York Times, title to the painting will reportedly be confirmed as Meyer’s, and the work will be displayed on a rotating basis in France (where Meyer lives) and the Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art (where it has been) until such time as Meyer donates it to a French museum (either during life or in her will).  It is a remarkable development in a case that the Oklahoma defendants defended vigorously, and a credit to the participants and lawyers involved on both sides that they were able to bridge the gap and reach an agreement.

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Topics: Léone Meyer’s, University of Oklahoma, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Restitution, World War II, Camille Pissarro

Léone Meyer’s Claims for Pissarro Transferred to Oklahoma

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on April 7, 2015 at 10:42 AM

A U.S. District Court judge has taken the recent invitation of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and transferred to Oklahoma a lawsuit by Léone Meyer over ownership of a Camille Pissarro painting at the Fred Jones, Jr. Museum at the University of Oklahoma. The case will now proceed in Oklahoma, where the museum seems likely to assert both sovereign immunity under Oklahoma law, as well as an argument that transfers in Switzerland conferred legal title to the museum as a successor to those transfers. However counterintuitive it seems, it may yet be that a court could agree with Meyer that the painting was stolen, but agree with Oklahoma that a Swiss litigation in the 1950s about whether it was sold to a good faith buyer means that Oklahoma holds full title and ownership.

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Topics: David Findlay Jr. Inc., due process, third party beneficiary, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Raoul Meyer, Nazi Occupation, American Alliance of Museums, University of Oklahoma, Aaron and Clara Weitzenhofer, Judge Colleen McMahon, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, AAM, Vichy, La bergère rentrent des moutons, Association of Art Museum Directors, Restitution, David Findlay Galleries, World War II, CPLR 301, Switzerland, Leone Meyer, long art statute, Camille Pissarro, Museums, personal jurisdiction, AAMD, Christoph Bernoulli, Swiss judgment, Rep. Mike Reynolds

Claim for Pissarro Painting Could be Heading to Oklahoma

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 16, 2015 at 6:00 AM

An interesting development happened last week in the case seeking restitution of a Camille Pissarro painting held by the University of Oklahoma. The plaintiff Leone Meyer appealed the May 14, 2014 judgment that found that the courts of New York lacked jurisdiction over the Oklahoma-based defendants affiliated with the University of Oklahoma (the painting is in the Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art). Without ruling on the jurisdictional basis for dismissal, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the matter back to the trial court for consideration of whether the case should be transferred to Oklahoma. It seems likely that it will be, or even if not, that she will file a new case there and the matter will continue. It’s splitting hairs, but many of the headlines suggesting that the Court of Appeals had revived Meyer’s claims are not quite right; Meyer’s claims have still never been addressed on the merits (so they were never dead) and, as discussed below, another forum remains available to her. The larger point is that a second round is likely coming in Oklahoma.

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Topics: David Findlay Jr. Inc., Raoul Meyer, Nazi Occupation, University of Oklahoma, Aaron and Clara Weitzenhofer, Judge Colleen McMahon, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Vichy, La bergère rentrent des moutons, Restitution, David Findlay Galleries, World War II, Switzerland, Leone Meyer, Camille Pissarro, Museums, personal jurisdiction, Christoph Bernoulli, Swiss judgment

Remaining Claims Against AAM, AAMD Related to Pissarro “La Bergere” in Oklahoma Are Dismissed

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 23, 2014 at 5:34 AM

As we reported last week, the U.S. District Court dismissed claims against the Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art, the University of Oklahoma, and associated Oklahoma defendants, over title to the Camille Pissarro painting La bergère rentrent des moutons (a case in which I represented the David Findlay Jr. Gallery).

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Topics: David Findlay Jr. Inc., due process, third party beneficiary, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Raoul Meyer, Nazi Occupation, American Alliance of Museums, University of Oklahoma, Aaron and Clara Weitzenhofer, Judge Colleen McMahon, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, AAM, Vichy, La bergère rentrent des moutons, Association of Art Museum Directors, Restitution, David Findlay Galleries, World War II, CPLR 301, Switzerland, Leone Meyer, long art statute, Camille Pissarro, Museums, personal jurisdiction, AAMD, Christoph Bernoulli, Swiss judgment

Claims Against University of Oklahoma Over Pissarro "La bergère" Dismissed on Jurisdictional Grounds

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 15, 2014 at 11:09 AM

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has dismissed the much-publicized claims by Leone Meyer against the University of Oklahoma and related Oklahoma public officials and insitutions for the return of La bergère rentrent des moutons by Camille Pissarro, currently in the Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art. In full disclosure: I represented David Findlay, Jr., Inc. in the action, who was dismissed from the action last year by agreement.

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Topics: David Findlay Jr. Inc., due process, third party beneficiary, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Raoul Meyer, Nazi Occupation, American Alliance of Museums, University of Oklahoma, Aaron and Clara Weitzenhofer, Judge Colleen McMahon, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, AAM, Vichy, La bergère rentrent des moutons, Association of Art Museum Directors, Restitution, David Findlay Galleries, World War II, CPLR 301, Switzerland, Leone Meyer, long art statute, Camille Pissarro, personal jurisdiction, AAMD, Christoph Bernoulli, Swiss judgment

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