WASHINGTON (AFP).- A Vincent Van Gogh masterpiece can remain in the United States after the US Supreme Court rejected an appeal from the descendant of a Russian collector whose property was nationalized after the 1917 Revolution.
The decision ends Frenchman Pierre Konowaloff's last legal recourse to claim "The Night Cafe," which the Dutch artist painted in the southern French city of Arles in September 1888.
Estimated to be worth $200 million, the canvas is on display at the Yale University Art Gallery in Connecticut.
The Impressionist painting was previously owned by Ivan Morozov, a Russian merchant and aristocrat who built an extensive collection of works by some of the greatest painters of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The Communist authorities confiscated Morozov's collection after the Bolshevik Revolution.
In 1933, the Soviet government sold the painting to a Berlin gallery.
The work later went to a New York gallery that sold it to American collector Stephen Clark, grandson of a founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company.
Clark bequeathed the painting to Yale, his alma mater, which has kept it since his death in 1961.
Konowaloff, who is Morozov's great-grandson, has waged a legal battle since the early 2000s claiming he is the rightful heir.
A federal appeals court in New York dismissed his claim last year, citing the "act of state doctrine," which prevents US courts from second-guessing the policies of sovereign governments.
The same court earlier ruled against Konowaloff in a dispute with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York over a painting by Paul Cezanne.
In the oil on canvas "The Night Cafe," Van Gogh used his typical rough brushstrokes and bold colors to depict an interior with a pool table and scattering of mostly huddled customers.
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