A U.S. appeals court upheld a lower ruling on Tuesday, allowing Yale University to keep a painting by famed Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh and denying a request by the great-grandson of a Russian art collector to argue his ownership of the painting.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled that the arguments made by Pierre Konowaloff, the great-grandson of art collector Ivan Abramovich Morozov, lacked merit.
The 1888 oil painting, titled "The Night Café (1888)," once belonged to Morozov, one of three major art collectors whose collections were expropriated in 1918 by the Russian Bolshevik revolutionary government. Konowaloff himself has asserted that his request for outlawing the confiscation of cultural property in 1918 is not valid anymore as the painting has remained in Yale since 1961 and the Bolsheviks are long gone.
The U.S. District Court for Connecticut originally ruled that the act of state doctrine precludes U.S. courts from inquiring into the validity of decisions by recognized foreign sovereign governments within their own territory.
The same doctrine was applied in an unsuccessful 2012 lawsuit by Konowaloff against New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art over ownership of Paul Cézanne's "Madame Cézanne in the Conservatory" given to Yale by the same person who bequeathed "The Night Café." However this person according to Konowaloff delivered stolen artifacts. And as such his attorney claims that his other arguments which included 'thievery' should not have been dropped. ?Reuters