Kreuk, Vo, and Bortolozzi Settle Two-Year Dispute Over Alleged Commission [Updated]

Works by Danh Vo at the 2014 Frieze New York art fair.

Works by Danh Vo at the 2014 Frieze New York art fair.


The Dutch collector Bert Kreuk, artist Danh Vo, and Berlin gallerist Isabella Bortolozzi have resolved their two-year legal dispute over a site-specific installation at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague. After a six-hour negotiation today, all parties have agreed to withdraw their claims relating to Kreuk’s 2013 breach-of-contract lawsuit and its aftermath. Exact terms have not been disclosed.

When asked via e-mail about the meeting, Kreuk responded, “I can confirm that a settlement has been reached, between myself, Danh Vo and Bortolozzi. This will bring an end to all proceedings.”

The proceedings stem from a disagreement over the extent of Vo’s participation in a show of Kreuk’s collection at The Hague museum in 2013, which the collector curated himself. Kreuk already owned two of Vo’s signature gold-leaf-on-cardboard alphabet works, and Bortolozzi sold him a third. But Kreuk asserted that during a tour of the museum Vo and Bortolozzi had agreed that the artist would make him new work for a gallery in the show, to be purchased in bulk, at an institutional discount. Vo and Bortolozzi denied this and called the visit “exploratory.” Kreuk was disappointed when Vo loaned the museum a cardboard whiskey box instead.

After the show closed, a senior museum executive told an aggrieved Kreuk he should seize the loaned artwork while he sued to get the bigger, hoped-for installation.

Most recently, the proceedings involved an extraordinary ruling in June 2015 by a Rotterdam district court judge who, after deciding the artist and dealer had indeed entered an agreement, ordered Vo to produce a “large and impressive” artwork for Kreuk, for $350,000, within one year, or face escalating fines.

While vowing to appeal, Vo offered Kreuk a proposal that met the judge’s criteria: the artist would have his father fill the walls of a gallery with text from his installation in the Danish Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale. The specific line was from the 1973 film The Exorcist: “SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS, YOU FAGGOT.” Kreuk rejected the proposal, a situation unanticipated by the judge’s order.

Reached by e-mail, Vo issued the following statement about the settlement:

On 1 December 2015 an agreement was reached between Danh Vo, Bortolozzi and Kreuk. Kreuk has withdrawn all of his alleged claims, and the appeal proceedings have been cancelled. Kreuk has not received any compensation or art work in connection with this agreement. Kreuk has acknowledged that in the opinion of Vo the District Court has labelled Vo’s work in a way that does not represent his work correctly. Danh Vo has acknowledged the general principle that if an agreement is made, it should be fulfilled. The parties respect that they each have different views on this matter. The parties will act as if the judgment has been annulled. Each party will bear its own costs. The parties have acknowledged that furthermore they do not have any claims whatsoever on each other in connection with the matters concerned.

Bortolozzi has yet to respond to inquiries. Mr. Kreuk concluded his statement by saying, “It is time to move on and fully immerse myself again in the pleasures of art collecting.”

Among those pleasures: selling. Mr. Kreuk arranged to auction his freshly acquired works by Vo and others while they still hung on the Gemeentemuseum’s walls, and he sold his last two Vo letters during the lawsuit for a total of $740,000.

Update, December 2, 8 a.m.: A statement from Vo was added to this post.

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