Brazilian police on Wednesday discovered a major work by Tarsila do Amaral, one of the country’s most important modern artists, under a bed during an investigation into a group of stolen artworks.
do Amaral’s painting is said to be worth 300 million reias, or $59.1 million. It is one of 16 paintings that police say were stolen in an operation that ultimately involved 709 million reias ($139 million) worth of art, not including jewelry and cash that were also stolen.
According to local police statements, the theft was the result of a long scam orchestrated by the daughter of a woman in Rio de Janeiro. Infobae identified the mother like Geneviève Boghici, an 82-year-old woman who was married to Jean Boghici, a defunct brazilian dealer who amassed a large collection.
Using a clairvoyant, the girl, who has not been named, allegedly tricked Boghici into thinking she was ill and coerced her into making a series of payments during a sort of “spiritual work” treatment involving an alleged Afro-Brazilian priestess, police said. .
Police say Boghici eventually grew suspicious of their ruse, and when she tried to stop making payments, she was confined to her home, threatened, beaten and eventually robbed. While Boghici was out of the house, his daughter allegedly resorted to the help of accomplices to steal the paintings. Police say the girl fired servants to ensure the theft would be possible.
The painting by Amaral, titled Sol Poente (Setting Sun), 1929, is a historically significant work that features a succession of teardrop-shaped animals under radiant sunshine and greenery. It is a shining example of how Amaral synthesized the aesthetics of European modernism with styles derived from Brazilian vernacular art. The painting was featured in his acclaimed Museum of Modern Art retrospective in 2018.
Sol Poente was found under a bed in a beachfront apartment in Ipanema. Video posted on Twitter Wednesday by Brazilian Outlet Dia’s Diary appears to show investigators pulling the painting out from under a bed frame and removing shreds of bubble wrap. “Damn it!” a person shouts in Portuguese when the painting is revealed.
Two of these works were paintings by Rubens Gerchman and Antonio Dias, each valued at $300,000. According InfobaeEduardo F. Costantini, an Argentinian businessman who ranks on the ART news List of top 200 collectors, purchased these works from Ricardo Camargo Gallery in São Paulo in 2021.
“According to provenance information, two of these works belonged to Boghici’s daughter and were purchased in good faith and duly registered,” Costantini said in a statement.
ART news has contacted Ricardo Camargo Gallery for comment.
Already on Wednesday, the police arrested Boghici’s daughter and three other people who they believe were involved in the robbery. In total, Brazilian police issued 6 arrest warrants and 16 search and seizure warrants.