José “Joe” Berardo

Berardo’s art collection seizure makes international news

Portugal’s ‘seizure’ of the 900 artworks collected by ‘debt-riddled’ José (Joe) Berardo has made international news this week as the ‘unthinkable’ (in Berardo’s book) happened.

As the Guardian explains: “For months three Portuguese banks had tried but failed to seize the art collection”.

Now, it seems, they have – along with properties used by the wily Madeiran businessman in his island home and Lisbon.

The irony is that Berardo has been painted as having used every manoeuvre possible to protect these assets – to the point that he had “only a garage” in his name (click here).

But somehow the alleged financial skullduggery appears to have been thwarted, and the banks that between them are owed almost one billion euros are clawing back the bacon.

Says the Guardian, the enormous modern art collection – which includes works by Miró, Mondrian, Gerhard Richter and Francis Bacon – was valued in 2006 at 316 million euros, but could be worth double now “given the growth of the art market”. A self-portrait by Bacon, for example, sold for over 17 million euros when it was auctioned by Sotheby’s last month, said the paper.

Meantime, in this country – where the banks’ mission previously had been described as ‘Kamikaze’ (click here) – José Berardo’s legal team is described as having time now to work on ‘a response’ to the seizure, as the banks themselves are staying schtum.

Explain reports, despite ‘belonging’ (for the time being at least) to State bank CGD, Novo Banco and BCP Millennium, the collection remains in the custody of the State.

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