Brazilian collector tries to recover a stolen Van Gogh that appeared in a museum in the United States

Gustavo Soto wants the return of a painting that is on display at the Detroit Institute of Art and that was allegedly stolen after he bought it for 3.7 million in 2017.

In October, the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA) pulled back the curtains on its three-month Van Gogh exhibition, proudly boasting that its 74-frame display was one of the largest collections of the famous works ever assembled. from the Dutch master. Now, a collector claims that one of them has been stolen.

A Brazilian collector tries to recover a painting by Van Gogh that is exhibited in the Detroit museum and that was allegedly stolen after buying it for 3.7 million in 2017, according to local media.

In a lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of Michigan, the collector, Gustavo Soto, demands that the Detroit Institute of Art not return the painting when the Van Gogh exhibition ends, which is open until January 22, to allow him to recover it.

It is about the work The novel reader (1888), in which the Dutch painter outlines with a broad black stroke the figure of a woman holding a book, in yellowish tones, and which he estimates today at a value of 5 million dollars, according to the documents.

Soto denounces that as soon as he bought the painting, he transferred its possession, but not its ownership, to a third party who “escaped” with it and who had kept the work’s whereabouts unknown.

He recently discovered that it was in the DIA, “apparently on loan from a private collection,” for which he claimed that the museum not return it to that entity or “will lose the opportunity to recover it,” he says.

The museum, for its part, has said that it is aware of the lawsuit and that it accepted the loan following good industry practices, making it subject to federal law.

For now, a judge on Wednesday ordered him to hold the painting, part of a rare van Gogh exhibit, which ends on January 22.

U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh barred the museum from moving it, a temporary step before a court hearing on Jan. 19.

The museum declined to comment on the dispute, but said “no allegation of misconduct by the DIA has been filed.”

The oil painting on canvas indicates that it is on loan from a collection in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It is one of 80 van Gogh works on display and remained on display Wednesday.

“The loan was accepted in accordance with the museum’s best practices and is subject to the protections of applicable federal law through registration with the US Department of State,” the museum said.

The lawsuit marks a disappointing turnaround for the DIA, whose staff managed to assemble dozens of paintings to display in addition to the six the museum already owned.

It was a blow to the institute, which was the first American museum to acquire a Van Gogh when it bought a self-portrait in 1922 for $4,200.