Missing works of art seized by Portuguese justice ‘sold at auction’ by fugitive ex-banker

€229,000 (see update below): This is what former fugitive banker João Rendeiro appears to have earned by selling works of art from his mansion, although Portuguese justice has “seized” them at the light of the criminal proceedings initiated against him for defrauding the customers of the BPP bank.

The ease with which Mr. Rendeiro sold the artworks at Christie’s auction house has a lot to do with the fact that authorities left his entire 124-piece collection where it lay, or hung, in his luxury property at Quinta Patiño, near Alcabideche, for over a decade.

It was only when Mr. Rendeiro refused to appear in prison at the end of September that the judge in charge of the case decided that it was high time for the works to be “reported”.

At this point, 15 were discovered to be missing, and at least three appeared to have been replaced by bad forgeries (click here).

Mr Rendeiro’s wife, Maria de Jesus, is the collection’s ‘faithful trustee’ – and as such could now be charged with ‘descaminho’ – a crime which carries a maximum prison sentence of five year.

Expresso reports that Ms Rendeiro is due to be questioned tomorrow by Judge Tânia Loureiro Gomes while investigators try to trace which bank account the money from the sales went to – and if there is a way to get it back.

A court source tells the newspaper that lawyers acting for BPP (or what’s left of it) will try to file “an actio Pauliana” – a legal instrument intended to protect creditors against fraudulent legal transactions, particularly transactions intended to reduce a debtor’s estate through transfers. to third parties in bad faith.

Meanwhile, Christie’s, as well as Mr. Rendeiro’s own lawyers, have not responded to Expresso’s attempts to contact.

The newspaper explains that although, by law, any contract related to the art world must be sent to the PJ “to avoid the sale of stolen objects”, this hardly tends to happen when sales are made overseas. All that is required in these cases is a “sworn statement, confirming that the works belong to the seller and that they are free from any encumbrance or obligation…”

Clearly, in this case, Mr. Rendeiro made this declaration on his honor – and no one has sought to verify its validity. A simple search on the Internet would have quickly shown that his art collection had been the subject of a judicial seizure in 2010.

According to Expresso, the situation could now become very complicated for Mr. Rendeiro’s wife.

It is possible that Judge Loureiro Gomes will order the seizure of the contents of the couple’s mansion. As reports have already explained, if this happened, Ms. Rendeiro would be left with only a bed, a fridge and a stove.


Newscast SIC reported that a lawyer acting for BPP (which is being liquidated) claims that Mr. Rendeiro actually sold EIGHT works of art (not just three), for a total gain of 1.3 million euros…

As for the interrogation of Mr. Rendeiro’s wife, Maria de Jesus, it did not go as planned because she was described as “not having the psychological conditions” for it.

In fact, SIC reports that Ms. Rendeiro’s lawyer said in court that her client did not want to make a statement because the case could turn into a crime.

“Judge Tânia Loureiro Gomes insisted that this case did not concern the crime and that Maria de Jesus was not an ‘arguida’ (official suspect), she was simply understood as a faithful depositary of the works of art “. But the answer remained, that Ms. Rendeiro was not in “psychological or emotional conditions” to be questioned.

BPP lawyer Miguel Coutinho is described as pushing for the court to order the entire contents of the mansion seized.

The judge, however, decided to suspend the hearing, explains SIC, “postponing the decisions to a later date”.

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Christopher S. Washington