French Woman Drops Effort to Retrieve Nazi-Looted Art From U.S. University

NEW YORK -

An elderly French woman has ended her legal efforts to retrieve a painting from the University of Oklahoma that she said had been stolen from her adoptive parents during World War II.

Léone-Noëlle Meyer, 81, lost her family in the Holocaust. At age 7, she survived Auschwitz alone and was adopted by Raoul and Yvonne Meyer from an orphanage after the war, NBC News reported.

“This work of art, which belonged to my adoptive parents, Yvonne and Raoul Meyer, was stolen from them by the Nazis during the occupation of France in 1941,” Meyer said in a statement.

Raoul and Yvonne Meyer managed to flee France when the Nazis occupied the country, but left many valuables behind, including works of art by renown painters, in a bank vault for safekeeping.  When they returned to France, they found the Nazis had seized the art and it was in the hands of a Swiss art dealer.

Raoul Meyer spent decades in Swiss court fighting to retrieve the art, and after his death his adopted daughter continued the struggle. But now she has “no other choice” but to drop the matter, she said.

Meyer was told she would face heavy fines if she continued to attempt legal action against the University of Oklahoma. She said she was now “left with 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.”

Last month, a French court ruled that Meyer’s agreement to allow the University of Oklahoma to exhibit the $2 million painting, superseded a 1945 French law that returned Nazi-looted works to their owners.

Meyers said she made the agreement under duress from lawyers.