SAO PAULO (AFP): Brazilian authorities arrested a late art collector’s daughter Wednesday for allegedly orchestrating a scam in which a supposed psychic moved into her octogenarian mother’s home and stole millions, police and media reports said.
The woman from Rio de Janeiro is accused of deceiving and extorting her 82-year-old mother out of paintings, jewels and cash valued at a total 725 million reais ($145 million) in a months-long scheme, police told AFP.
The 16 paintings stolen by the woman and five alleged accomplices — three of whom were also arrested — included works by Brazilian masters Tarsila do Amaral and Emiliano Di Cavalcanti, local media reports said.
The arrested woman is reportedly the daughter of Jean Boghici, a famed Brazilian art collector who died in 2015.
Her mother, Boghici’s widow and heir to his collection, was allegedly tricked into believing her daughter was sick, and then persuaded to hire a woman with supposed healing powers to administer a “spiritual treatment,” according to news site G1.
The mother paid some $970,000 from January to February 2020, but became suspicious and stopped the payments.
The “psychic” and her accomplices then allegedly threatened and attacked the widow, isolating her at home for nearly a year as they stole her artworks and jewels.
The stolen paintings included “O Sono” and “Sol Poente” by Do Amaral, a master of Brazilian Modernism.
The latter, a famed 1929 oil painting, was found under one suspect’s bed, according to G1.
Other works had been sold to art galleries, and at least two ended up in the hands of Argentine businessman Eduardo Costantini, founder of the Museum of Latin American Art in Buenos Aires (Malba), the museum told newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo.