More than 30 years since his death in 1979, and after 12 years of legal battles, 26 paintings by renowned Taiwanese painter Lan Yin-ting (藍蔭鼎) were deemed by the Supreme Court on Friday to be the shared property of his nine children.
Lan was born in Yilan County’s Lodung Township (羅東) in 1903 and became the apprentice of famous Japanese watercolor painter Ishikawa Kinichiro.
At the age of 69, Lan was named one of the world’s top 10 -watercolor -painters by the European Art Critic Society and the American Art Critic Society.
Though watercolors tended not to fetch as high a price as oil paintings because of the difficulties involved in preserving them, Lan was an artist of great acclaim and his paintings were sold for anything from hundreds of thousands of NT dollars to more than a million.
Depending on the market, sources have estimated the total value of his 26 paintings at over NT$30 million (US$984,510).
Lan’s eldest son, Lan Chun-yu (藍俊煜), filed a lawsuit before his death claiming that his younger brother Lan Kao-ching (藍高精) dispossessed Lan Chun-yu of their father’s paintings, which were stored in the artist’s studio.
Lan Chun-yu claimed that Lan Kao-ching not only sold part of the collection, but also allowed the collection to be put on display in the National Palace Museum, and filed a lawsuit for the paintings’ return.
In the first trial, the judge ruled that there was no proof that the 26 paintings were left by Lan Yin-ting to his children as inheritance and therefore ruled in favor of Lan Kao-ching. In an appeal, the High Court ruled that the paintings belonged to all nine of the artist’s children, a ruling that the Supreme Court upheld on Friday.
The collegiate bench made the ruling by referencing the testimony of Lan Yin-ting’s friends, saying that before Lan Yin-ting passed away, he left the paintings in his studio, which was accessible through his wife, Lan Wu Yu-hsia (藍吳玉霞).
Further testimony said that Lan Yin-ting gave each of his children at the most three of his paintings and there was no reason that he would give 26 to a single one of them, the collegiate bench said, ruling that Lan Kao-ching should turn over the 26 paintings to the other inheritors.
Lan Yin-ting and Lan Wu Yu-hsia in total raised five sons and four daughters. During the retrial in the High Court, Lan Chun-yu, the third son, Lan Kao-hsun (藍高勳), and two daughters passed away, and in the 12 years since, some members of the third generation of Lan Yin-ting’s family have also passed away.
At present, there are 16 inheritors involved in the cases who are living in Taiwan, France, England and the US. Four of the inheritors could not be reached by the court.
Though the plaintiff, Lan Chun-yu, passed away during the process of litigation, his eldest son, Lan Ching-hsian (藍景祥), continued to pursue the case, but he declined to comment on winning the case against his uncle.
Additional reporting by Ling Mei-hsueh
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer
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