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Detroit Institute of Arts sued over $5M Van Gogh piece

Posted at 5:45 AM, Jan 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-11 17:31:55-05

(WXYZ) — A Brazilian Art Collector is suing the Detroit Institute of Art for allegedly stealing an 1888 painting from the famous post-impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh.

The painting called 'Lisuese de Romans' or 'The Novel Reader' has been on display in the DIA since October for the Van Gogh in America exhibit. It's estimated to be worth $5 million.

According to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, a private art collector purchased the painting back in 2017 for $3.7 million. It was absconded by a third party immediately. The alleged owner, Gustavo Soter claims he has been searching for it ever since. His hunt ended in January when someone snapped a picture of it here in Detroit.

Soter is now requesting that the DIA either return the art piece to him immediately or keep it in their possession until the lawsuit is settled.

Soter fears that if the DIA returns the painting to the third party when the exhibit ends in 11 days, he will not know its whereabouts once again. On Wednesday, the court issued an order pending hearing, ordering the DIA "to refrain from damaging, destroying, concealing, disposing, moving, or using as to substantially impair its value" and set a hearing for the matter on January 19 at 10:00 a.m.

The DIA, which has 'The Novel Reader' on loan says they have not yet been served. They also say they regularly enter loan agreements with other collectors and research ownership.