Banks ‘seize’ multi-million Berardo art collection

His is one of State Bank CGD’s “large bad loans” – catastrophic deals which took the bank to the brink – and now the tables have well and truly turned. Art collector “Joe” Berardo has this week seen CGD, Novo Banco and BCP “give orders to execute a lien on 75%” on his internationally-acclaimed collection.

Says Público, “the process is mined in obstacles that open to the door to negotiations”.

At issue are credits of over €500 million, which Berardo has been unable to repay for years.

Explaining the background, Público says that numbers “published in the media, indicate that in the second half of the last decade Berardo financed himself on a large scale through CGD, 400 million euros, BCP, another four hundred million euros, and from BES, 200 million euros.

“Santander Totta had already backed him to the tune of at least 100 million”.

The lion’s share of the money was “used to buy stocks and shares, which the banks accepted as guarantees.

“The problem is that from 2008, the markets collapsed and the shares that served as collateral for Berardo’s debts suffered massive devaluation.

“The consequences are well-known: the banks registered losses” dubbed “unrecoverable”, and so developed Portugal’s “bad loan crisis”.

But how badly the situation has actually affected the man who managed to sell a slice of coastal property in the Algarve to a (now bankrupt) former property mogul – assuring him (incorrectly) that he would get permission to build a luxury VIP resort – is unclear.

As Diário de Notícias reported back in 2008, Berardo scooped over €14 million from the Algarve property deal, as he originally purchased Alvor’s Quinta da Rocha for just €500,000.

For now, the wily wheeler-dealer’s collection of modern art is almost certainly worth between €300-€400 million – and he does not appear to be even entertaining the notion of “seizure”.

“Seizure, what seizure? Talk to my lawyer”, he is quoted as having told Público – while lawyer André Luís Gomes told the paper’s journalists: “I do not make statements, these are confidential matters”.

Says the paper, Berardo “is already announcing new initiatives. In October he wants to open a new museum of art nouveau, and he “hasn’t ruled out the opening of another of African Art in the Bairro Alto” district of Lisbon.

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