Judge rules Van Gogh painting on loan to the DIA can't be seized

Van Gogh
Posted at 5:29 PM, Jan 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-21 16:06:37-05

DETROIT (WXYZ0 — A judge has found that he has no authority to grant an injunction that would prevent the Detroit Institute of Arts from moving a Van Gogh painting when their exhibit ends this weekend.

The suit was launched last week when art collector Gustavo Soter sued, claiming he owns Van Gogh's painting, The Novel Reader.

During a court hearing Thursday, his attorney Aaron Phelps said Soter bought the painting in May 2017 for $3.7 million.

He said a third party agreed to store the painting for Soter, and there was periodic communication up until 2019-2020.

The attorney said Soter became concerned in 2020 when the third party stopped all communication.

The plaintiff demands the DIA identify who loaned the painting to the museum and produce the loan agreement.

The DIA's attorney, Andrew Pauwels, told the judge that the plaintiff never reported the art lost or stolen to the Art Loss Register, the FBI, nor the State Department. He asked the judge to dismiss the case.

In his ruling dismissing the case, the judge agreed with the DIA that it followed a State Department statute in order to acquire the loan of the artwork and that being approved by the State Department makes the DIA immune to this lawsuit.

As such, the judge ruled the DIA had done their due diligence and he had no choice but to dismiss the lawsuit.

You can read the ruling below:'

Opinion by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd