A Yayoi Kusama pumpkin similar to the one at the heart of this case

Gulbenkian ‘art broker’ pleads guilty to million-euro pumpkin theft. Sentencing due on July 28

The extraordinary story of Angela Gulbenkian – a self-styled ‘art world heiress’ whose last name came from being married to Portuguese sports agent Duarte Gulbenkian – has taken another extraordinary twist.

After being whisked out of jail in Portugal at the dead of night to be flown to England on an extradition warrant in December 2020, she has pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court to the charges against her relating to what can only be described as a major art sting involving the sculpture of a pumpkin.

The story is explained by online Town&Countrymag.com (click here), but as far as the Portuguese press has been concerned, Ms Gulbenkian should never have been sprung from her jail cell at Tires’ women’s prison (click here).

The timing was crucial. Had Interpol not effected the rushed exit from national territory, a writ of Habeas Corpus would have been issued the next day, and she would have ‘escaped’.

Indeed the Supreme Court did pronounce, a week after Ms Gulbenkian was flown to the UK, confirming that her imprisonment at the time was ‘illegal’ (click here)

As it is she has now spent almost 19 months in a British prison after five months in a Portuguese one. She may face many more months, even years, behind bars.

Art sleuth and lawyer Christopher Martinello tells us “she is facing 5-7 years more in jail…”

The ‘well over a million euros’ Ms Gulbenkian is understood to have pocketed may never be recovered.

For now Southwark Crown Court has accepted that “no assets are present within the UK” to realise the confiscation order made.

In pleading guilty, there will be no trial.

Sentencing is due on July 28.

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