Interpol and Portuguese police effect extradition of jailed Gulbenkian art broker in ‘wee small hours’ ahead of bid for freedom

Interpol and Portuguese police appear to have moved in at the 11th hour to extradite a German art broker from the powerful Gulbenkian family to the United Kingdom.

Held in Tires jail on an International Arrest Warrant since the summer, Angela Gulbenkian was hoping that a writ of Habeas Corpus (freeing her immediately) would have been granted today.

But sometime between 3am and 4am yesterday morning she was whisked from her cell and flown to London, where she has now appeared before Southwark Magistrates Court and been ‘remanded in custody ahead of a plea’.

A trial preparation hearing has been set for January 13, while ‘back in Portugal’ Ms Gulbenkian’s husband Duarte is alleging skullduggery.

Talking to Lusa, Mr Gulbenkian suggests there were serious issues with the extradition process.

In his mindset – and that of his wife’s defence team – the international arrest warrant should have expired over two weeks ago. If that is the case, Ms Gulbenkian’s continued incarceration would have been illegal.

A hearing scheduled today at the Supreme Tribunal of Justice would have explored all this, and may well have ruled in Ms Gulbenkian’s favour. But now it’s too late: she is in an English jail and likely to be charged over the alleged theft of a sculpture valued at over €1 million. She may also face other charges and accusations (click here).

Back last summer, the Resident spoke to lawyer Christopher Marinello who specialises in recovering ‘missing works of art’ – particularly when they have been stolen or looted.

He intimated that nothing would be left to chance in this case – and that he would be ‘relentless’ in trying to secure redress for his client (the buyer who says he gave Ms Gulbenkian £1,143,656.25 for a sculpture he never received).

Here, Observador says Ms Gulbenkian’s family (this may not be the Gulbenkian side of her family: it’s not clear from the text) is considering taking action against the Portuguese State over “non-contractual liability for non-compliance with the law”. If they do, the case would run in the Portuguese courts. In other words, it would be unlikely to affect the outcome of any trial taking place in the United Kingdom.

Commenting on all the ‘fuss’ today, Christopher Marinello said it’s “funny how they would rather pay a lawyer to sue Portugal than pay back the money” Ms Gulbenkian allegedly stole.

As our original story explained, the ‘missing sculpture’ isn’t the only claim purportedly stacked up against Ms Gulbenkian.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com