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

    DETROIT (AP) – A judge on Wednesday ordered a Detroit museum to hold onto an 1888 painting by Vincent van Gogh in response to a lawsuit by its owner, who claims it has been missing for nearly six years.

    The painting, titled The Novel Reader or The Reading Lady, is part of a rare van Gogh exhibit, which ends on January 22 at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).

    Brokerarte Capital Partners LLC and its sole proprietor, Gustavo Soter of Brazil, acquired the painting in 2017 for USD3.7 million, but a “third party” took possession of the art, according to the lawsuit.

    “Plaintiff has not known the location of the painting,” the lawsuit states. “Recently, however, plaintiff learnt that the painting is in the DIA’s possession, on display as part of the museum’s ‘Van Gogh in America’ exhibition.”

    The lawsuit seeks to have the painting turned over to the owner. United States (US) District Judge George Caram Steeh barred the museum from moving it, a temporary step before a court hearing on January 19.

    The painting is worth more than USD5 million, according to the lawsuit. The museum declined to comment on the dispute but said “no allegation of misconduct by the DIA has been alleged”.

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

    Visitors file past at the Van Gogh painting ‘The Novel Reader’ during the Van Gogh in America exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit. PHOTO: AP
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