State moves to protect art works
Portuguese court is looking to place 2,100 contemporary art works belonging to disgraced entrepreneur Joe Berardo under State protection.
The move is a bid to stop the works by famous artists and sculptors from being seized by creditors and auctioned off to pay a €962 million debt owed to State bank Caixa Geral de Depósitos and other banks.
The present agreement between the State and the art collecting mining mogul, who laughed in the face of public inquiry commissioners this year, covers just 862 works of art.
Sculptures from the Buddha Eden Garden at Bombarral are among the works of art that are held by the Berardo Collection Association (ACB) according to the newspaper Jornal Económico.
After a seizure order was considered this week as a consequence of a court decision in favour of banks Caixa Geral de Depósitos, BCP and Novo Banco to recover the debt, the Court fears “risk of embezzlement,” in other words going against an injunction of sale placed by a public entity (i.e. the State) under whose jurisdiction it is subject to.
“Justice has already set in train measures to locate the whereabouts of artworks and ensure that they remain on national soil through a seizure order decreed by a court in Lisbon at the beginning of this week” said a source.
The works, mostly paintings, that have yet to be found, are scattered around offices and company premises held by Berardo.
“The Berardo Association has never disposed nor has it any intention of committing an illegal act by disposing of its artworks,” stated a source close to Berardo adding that the seizure order decreed by the court “had no foundation since the risk of disposing of the goods had never existed.”
This week agents from the court were at the museum taking photographs and carrying out an inventory of 862 artworks before planning to seize them.
In 2006 a contract was signed between the Portuguese State and the Joe Berardo for the creation of a museum in his name at the Belém Cultural Centre for 10 years. The collection was valued at €316 million by Christie’s at the time.
The Berardo Collection has become one of Lisbon’s biggest tourist draws, with thousands flocking to see works of art by Picasso, Miro, Dali, Warhol, Mondrian and Duchamp among others.