Fight over disputed Van Gogh artwork headed to federal court in Detroit

DETROIT – Van Gogh in America brought more than 70 of his works to the Detroit Institute of Arts and, with it, came high crowds.

The exhibition is set to close on Jan. 22, and the rush is on to see it before it ends, especially since one of the works is at the center of an international dispute.

The painting is called Liseuse De Romans in French. In English, the painting is called the Novel Reader or The Reading Lady.

In court records filed in federal court in Detroit, a Brazilian art collector, Gustavo Soter, said the painting belonged to him and was stolen and wants the museum to turn it over.

The DIA, for its part, says federal law prevents it from turning over foreign artworks. In the exhibit, it says it’s on loan from a collector in Brazil. The painting was also not reported as stolen.

Read: Judge tells Detroit museum: Don’t move van Gogh painting

Still, Soter says he has the bill of sale. A federal judge in Detroit is set to hear the case Thursday (Jan. 19) morning. The museum had a steady stream of visitors Wednesday, ready to see the painted lady at the center of the dispute.

“This is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I kind of want to see it,” said Tyler Reed.

Visitors were just overwhelmed by seeing it all, including Starry Night on loan from the Musee D’Orsay in Paris.

“It was really just so fabulous to have so much here,” said Jane Reagan, who drove down from Williamston. The museum has such demand in the final week it’s extending hours, and very few tickets are still available.

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