DETROIT (AP) — A judge on Wednesday ordered a Detroit museum to hold onto an 1888 painting by Vincent van Gogh in response to a lawsuit by its owner, who claims it has been missing for nearly six years.
The painting, titled "The Novel Reader" or "The Reading Lady," is part of a rare van Gogh exhibit, which ends Jan. 22 at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Brokerarte Capital Partners LLC and its sole proprietor, Gustavo Soter of Brazil, acquired the painting in 2017 for $3.7 million, but a "third party" took possession of the art, according to the lawsuit.
"Plaintiff has not known the location of the painting," the lawsuit states. "Recently, however, plaintiff learned that the painting is in the DIA's possession, on display as part of the museum's 'Van Gogh in America' exhibition."
Detroit Art Institute sent a statement to Detroit Now News it reads as follow:
"Tuesday evening the DIA was made aware of a complaint filed with respect to a work of art currently on loan to the DIA. The loan was accepted in accordance with best museum practices and is subject to the protections of applicable Federal law through registration with the U.S. Department of State.
The referenced work of art is one of eighty in the DIA's widely acclaimed exhibition, Van Gogh in America, which runs through January 22, 2023. The exhibition already has attracted 170,000 visitors to view 74 Van Gogh works of art and an additional six works of art, from the DIA's own collection and sixty different lenders.
The DIA was advised this afternoon that the Federal Court has scheduled a hearing on this matter for January 19, 2023. No allegation of misconduct by the DIA has been alleged, and there has been no request or order for any modification to the exhibition. The DIA will continue to act in accordance with all applicable laws and museum best practices.
The DIA cannot comment on pending litigation."
Detroit Now News spoke with Jeffrey Abt, a museum historian and professor emirates with Wayne State. Although he says there are cases like this, he finds the case unusual.
"That particular kind of dispute is rare," he said.
The lawsuit seeks to have the painting turned over to the owner. U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh barred the museum from moving it, a temporary step before a court hearing on Jan. 19.
The painting is worth more than $5 million, according to the lawsuit.