Artist widow ordered to return paintings

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Chang Chin-fa’s widow refused to return the paintings after a university loaned them to her, sparking a lawsuit over their property

UNIVERSITY SUIT:

  • By Yang Kuo-wen and William Hetherington / Staff Reporter, with Staff Writer

The widow of the artist Chang Chin-fa (張 金發), who died in 2012 at the age of 78, was ordered by a court to return her late husband’s paintings to the university, to whom he had originally given them.

Chang’s widow, Chang Lin Hsiu-hsiang (張林秀 香), borrowed the paintings for an event and later refused to return them.

Chang Lin Hsiu-hsiang (張林秀 香) asked in 2017 to borrow 12 paintings of her late husband from the National Taiwan University of Arts for an event they held to mark the fifth anniversary of his death.

Photo: Huang Hsu-lei, Taipei Times

She later refused to return the paintings, saying her husband never intended them to be donated to the university.

She said her late husband only loaned them to promote local arts and culture.

The university took the case to court for decision. In the first judgment, the New Taipei City District Court ruled in his favor. Chang Lin appealed, and in the second verdict, the judge upheld the earlier verdict and ordered her to return the paintings to the school.

The judge in the second verdict said the evidence backs the university’s claim that her husband intended to donate the paintings to the university.

The 12 paintings depict scenes of Aboriginal villagers and fishermen, as well as scenes from various locations in Taiwan. Chang Chin-fa donated the paintings in 2008 and passed away in 2012.

Chang Lin applied to borrow the paintings in January 2017, and the university approved the application in March of that year, on condition that the paintings be returned by the end of July, it said.

When Chang Lin refused to return the paintings after the deadline, the university sued for their return, in addition to NT $ 590,000 in damages.

During the trial, Chang Lin argued that her husband only agreed to loan the paintings to the university because he heard about plans to build a new art museum and hoped his paintings could be used in an opening exhibition.

She said the university did not show the paintings but kept them in a warehouse, arguing that they were the rightful inheritance of her and her two daughters.

The High Court judge disagreed with these allegations based on the documents submitted by the university.

The court ordered Chang Lin to return the paintings to the university.

No monetary compensation was awarded.

The judgment can be appealed.

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