Collector Bert Kreuk Wins Lawsuit Against Artist Danh Vō and Will Get New Artwork

The ruling is sure to make waves in the art world.

Danh Vo will be taking part
Photo: artnet News.
Bert Kreuk Photo: Courtesy Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, via Art Daily

Bert Kreuk
Photo: Courtesy Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, via Art Daily

A Rotterdam court has ruled in favor of Dutch collector Bert Kreuk in the lawsuit launched against Danh Vō last September.

The polarizing collector sued the Danish-Vietnamese artist and Hugo Boss Prize winner for €898,000 (approximately $1.2 million), claiming Vō had failed to deliver an artwork for “Transforming the Known,” an exhibition of Kreuk’s collection at the Hague’s Gemeentemuseum (Municipal Museum)—an assertion that Vō‘s representatives deny.

Vō eventually sent a small artwork for the exhibition, but Kreuk claimed he had been promised a work that would fill an entire room in the museum.

The sum the collector was seeking in court reportedly corresponded to alleged damage to his reputation from Vō’s failing to deliver the piece.

However, the collector had mentioned before that he would be satisfied if Vō simply produced and delivered the artwork.

Danh Vo interview.

Danh Vo.
Photo: artnet News.

The judge found there was sufficient evidence that the artist and Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie, in a 2013 agreement with Kreuk, settled on the purchase of such work.

The court ordered Vō to make the artwork he had committed to deliver for the exhibition within one year. Vō and his gallerist, Isabella Bortolozzi, would have to pay a joint penalty of €10,000 a day for late delivery, with the maximum set at €350,000.

As indicated in the agreement, Kreuk will pay for the artwork up to $350,000—the price that was agreed upon at the time. Vō’s works currently sell for much higher prices, especially following his participation in this year’s Venice Biennale.

Kreuk originally demanded the artwork be completed within two weeks following the verdict, but the judge maintained that relations between the parties must first be normalized and that the artist’s schedule of previous obligations must also be taken into consideration.

Danh Vo, <i>We The People</i> (detail), (2011–2014). Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel.

Danh Vo, We The People (detail), (2011–2014).
Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel.

In addition, the court holds that Vō cannot be forced to reproduce an older work. Kreuk has expressed his preference for “Budweiser” and “American Flag” series, but the new artwork produced should rather reflect “developments he has made as an artist since then.”

Kreuk responded to the ruling in an Email to artnet News:

“The truth has prevailed and this ruling confirms that no one can simply distance oneself from an agreement and wrongly try to justify that afterwards. Danh Vō and Bartolozzi [sic] have persistently tried to distract from their non-compliance with baseless and inconsistent excuses as well as through convenient interpretations of the evidence. This, however, did not alter the facts or erase their obligations. For me it was always about the principle that everyone must abide by an agreement. Their attempts to discredit my reputation in order to give credibility to their own default was unworthy, opportunistic, and has proven to be irrelevant.”

Vō plans to appeal the court order, he told the Art Newspaper. “I believe that my artistic integrity has been violated by the court, ordering me to produce a ‘large and impressive work’ for Kreuk.”

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