Ministry of Culture terminates Berardo contract

 In Companies, News

Portugal’s Ministry of Culture is to end a protocol between the government and the Berardo Foundation which will come into effect in January 2023.

The protocol with multi-millionaire entrepreneur and art collector Joe Berardo has been in place since 2006 and created the Berardo Collection – Contemporary and Modern Art Foundation.
In practice, it means the collection, which is one of Lisbon’s biggest tourist draws and is housed in a special purpose-built multi-floor gallery at the Cultural Centre in Belém, could be broken up and sold off to cover some of the millions of euros in debts that the collector owes to a number of Portuguese banks from soured business deals over a decade ago.
On the other hand, if the collection is somehow no longer legally tied to Joe Berardo, the banks may not be able to claim them. What is known is that State does not want to lose the collection.
Three banks, Caixa Geral de Depósitos, BCP and Novobanco slapped a legal action against the Berardo Association Collection in October 2020 to affirm the right to seize the collector’s works of art to be sold off to cover debts.
The banks do not see the government’s decision to terminate the protocol with Joe Berardo as prejudicial to their claims on the artworks to settle some of the outstanding debts worth €1Bn borrowed in the tycoon’s failed bid to buy a substantial share in bank BCP.
The State has also announced that it will “acquire the Ellipse Collection which was seized when the Banco Privado Português (BPP) went bankrupt.
The 2006 protocol was an agreement signed between the Portuguese State, Joe Berardo, and the Belém Cultural Centre Foundation with the mission of creating the Berardo Museum to exhibit part of the 862 artwork collection.
According to Minister of Culture, Pedro Adão e Silva, the Joe Berardo Foundation of Contemporary and Modern Art will be wound up and a process will begin to “create a museum of contemporary art which will comprise various collections in the CCB”.
“When the courts make a definitive decision about the works which were legally seized in July 2019 following the lawsuit from the three banks to recover the debts, the State will negotiate the terms of a new protocol with whichever entity or entities are the legitimate owners”, said the Minister of Culture.