To the dismay of an art collector in a race against time, a federal judge on Thursday withheld a ruling on a stolen Vincent van Gogh painting on display at the Detroit Institute. of Art.
A Brazilian art collector who claims to be the owner of the painting is suing the DIA to return the painting before the famous “Van Gogh in America” exhibition ends on Sunday, and his attorney emphasized in the judge of time is very important.
“My client wants to be brought back before he disappears again,” Aaron Phelps’ lawyer argued in court on Thursday, and to maintain the authority of the judge to order the DIA to give his client the photo.
DIA attorney Andrew Pauwels argued that the judge had no jurisdiction and that the painting is protected from confiscation under a 1967 federal law protecting important cultural works from confiscation while on display. in the US In addition, he emphasized that the painting has never been reported. as stolen or lost to law enforcement in the US or abroad.
The Judge will see how the case can be resolved
But Phelps said that a third party in Brazil stole the film from his client and does not use the law of protection that the DIA mentioned in this case.
“Obviously it wasn’t designed to protect stolen photos,” argued Phelps, who declined to say why his client apparently didn’t report the stolen photos.
U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh said he would take the case under advisement, though he noted the dispute may be close to being resolved. According to private discussions he had with lawyers from both sides, he said.
“It seems that we have received information in favor of the plaintiff,” Steeh said, adding that the two sides have discussed “possible ways to resolve the matter.”
Steeh did not specify what those “methods” were.
Meanwhile, the art collector’s lawyer revealed in court – and in a filing – that he received a call from lawyers in New York purporting to represent the owners of the painting: ” Une Liseuse de Romans,” also called “The Reading Book.” Phelps declined to elaborate on the phone, though he has repeatedly emphasized that his client is the real owner of the photo, and has been searching for it since it was purchased in 2017 for $3.7 million. million.
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The plaintiff intends to resell the van Gogh paintings, the lawyer said
According to Phelps, his client gave the painting to another party with the hope of eventually selling it, but the other party disappeared with the painting, which was “thought to be stored in Brazil,” he said.
Phelps is representing Brazilian art collector Gustavo Soter, who filed a lawsuit against the DIA on Jan. 10, claiming the painting was stolen. didn’t arrive in Detroit and he was almost looking for it. six years.
The lawsuit does not allege any wrongdoing by the DIA, just an attempt to recover the film. Soter says he has the title, but hasn’t seen the painting since he bought it in 2017 — not learning what it was until his lawyers saw it at a Detroit museum.
But the DIA wants to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the painting is protected by the 1965 Immunity from Seizure Act, and the US State Department last summer allowed the paintings in the famous exhibition protection under that law almost 60 years. The DIA maintains this protection is essential for museums that assemble international exhibits.
Steeh previously ordered the film not to be operated pending further review.
The DIA’s “Van Gogh in America” exhibit, which opened Oct. 2, borrows artworks from more than 50 museums and collections around the world, including “Starry Night ,” borrowed from Paris’ Musée d’Orsay. To date, more than 170,000 people have visited the exhibition in Detroit, and thousands more are expected before the closing day of Saturday.
Tresa Baldas: email@example.com