Accidentally on Display (Stolen Van Gogh)


In the heart of Detroit lies one of the country’s most impressive art collections, curated to house paintings from many cultures’ prehistory through to the 21st century. The Detroit institute of arts has an impressive and wide collection of art pieces. Among them, however, was something that may cost them 5 million dollars in a lawsuit for art theft. On Tuesday, January 10th, 2023, Gustavo Soter, a Brazilian art collector, filed a lawsuit. Mr. Soter claims the oil painting Une Liseuse De Romans, or The Novel Reader, painted by the world-renowned painter Vincent Van Gogh is a part of his collection. This 1888 painting features a woman sitting eloquently in a library, reading a yellow book. The yellow, blue and red pallet is striking, and its clearly in Van Goghs signature style. According to the lawsuit, Mr. Soter purchased this painting in 2017 for 3.7 million dollars. Where it was then taken into possession by a third party. The DIA claimed to have borrowed the painting from a third party for its Van Gogh in America exhibit, which features 74 works by the famous painter. The suit says this third party “never transferred title to or any interest in the painting to this third party. Since the third party took possession of the painting in May of 2017, the plaintiff has not known the location of the painting.” Also, according to the lawsuit, Mr. Soter had only recently been made aware of the Detroit Institute of Art exhibition. “At that time,” the suit says, “the DIA will move the painting or transfer it to a third party. If the painting is moved or the DIA surrenders possession to a third party, the plaintiff will lose the chance to recover the painting, for which [he] has been searching for years… Because [Soter] retains good title to the painting and all true ownership interests in the painting, [he] now brings this diversity action to recover possession of [his] property … immediate action is urgently needed.” In the lawsuit, Mr. Soter requests the paintings be returned before the end of the exhibition on January 22, 2023. And there is a court hearing set for January 19, 2023. In the meantime, the museum is packed with visitors wanting to look at this recently turned scandalous artwork. A federal judge blocked the Detroit Institute of Arts officials from moving or hiding this painting, so you can get in today for the low price of 15 dollars and see the Liseuse De Romans. Still, you better act fast tickets have been selling out every day since this scandal broke.

I recently got the chance to travel to the DIA through the Women’s Empowerment Club, and although I didn’t check out the scandalous work, I got a lot out of the 1000s of other paintings and many other exhibits. In the spirit of art, however, I wanted to include some of my favorite art from the DIA that you can check out today.