Art collector insists DIA has stolen Van Gogh painting, demands immediate return

A legal tug of war over a painting is heating up in federal court, where a Brazilian art collector is trying to force the Detroit Institute of Arts to surrender a painting that

he maintains was stolen before it wound up on the museum's wall. The DIA maintains the painting was never reported stolen, and argues it is immune from seizure

under a federal law — though the art collector's lawyer says the DIA is "misguided" about that law and must turn over the painting. "(The collector) paid $3.7

million for the painting and would like it back," attorney Aaron Phelps wrote in a Wednesday court filing. Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox

each morning. The filing came on the eve of a Thursday court hearing, during which U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh will hear both sides argue about the

fate of a Van Gogh painting known as "The Novel Reader," which is part of the DIA's popular "Van Gogh in America" exhibition.

DIA says it is immune from being told what to do with the Van Gogh The 1888 oil painting hung on the DIA's walls for weeks before becoming the topic of national

and international intrigue on Jan. 10, when Brazilian art collector Gustovo Soter sued the DIA, alleging that he is the true owner of the painting, that it was stolen before it

arrived in Detroit and that he has been looking for it for almost six years.