Vincent Van Gogh’s 1888 masterpiece The Night Cafe is one of the most famous paintings in the world. And now it’s in the middle of a sticky lawsuit that could send shockwaves throughout the entire world of art.
The problem dates back to 1918, when the communist government nationalized personal property–including the Van Gogh in question–in the USSR. Years later, the government sold the painting to Yale University, where it’s been a highlight of the gallery’s collection for nearly 50 years. Now the descendants of the painting’s former owner are claiming that the government’s seizure of the painting amounts to theft, and they want it back.
Not surprisingly, Yale has refuted the claim. Their argument: not only does the court not have a right to overturn a decision by the Russian government, doing so could open up more than $20 billion in artwork up similar claims. With so much at stake, this is definitely a case to watch. [Source: Yale Daily News]
To find out more about this painting, and more controversies throughout art history, check out Art+Travel Europe, in stores this March.