The Rendeiro mansion at Quinta Patino, near Cascais

Missing art works impounded by Portuguese Justice ‘sold at auction’ by fugitive former banker

€229,000 (see update below): that is how much fugitive former banker João Rendeiro appears to have made by selling works of art from his mansion home, in spite of the Portuguese Justice having ‘seized’ them in light of criminal proceedings against him for defrauding clients of BPP bank.

The ease with which Mr Rendeiro snaffled the art works out to Christie’s auction house has a lot to do with the fact that authorities left his entire 124-piece collection where it stood, or hung, at his luxury property in Quinta Patiño, near Alcabideche, for more than a decade.

It was only when Mr Rendeiro refused to present himself for jail at the end of September, that the judge handling the case decided it was high time the works were ‘brought in’. 

At this point, it was discovered 15 were missing, and at least three appeared to have been substituted with bad forgeries (click here).

Mr Rendeiro’s wife, Maria de Jesus, is the ‘faithful trustee’ of the collection – and as such she could now be charged with ‘descaminho’ – a crime that carries a maximum jail term of five years.

Expresso reports that Mrs Rendeiro is due to be questioned tomorrow by Judge Tânia Loureiro Gomes while investigators will be attempting to trace which bank account the money from the sales went into – and whether there is any way of recovering it.

A judicial source tells the paper that lawyers acting for BPP (or what is left of it) will try filing “an actio Pauliana” – a legal instrument intended to protect creditors from fraudulent legal transactions, specifically transactions intended to reduce a debtor’s estate by transfers to third parties in bad faith.

Christie’s meantime, as well as Mr Rendeiro’s own lawyers, have not responded to Expresso’s attempts at contact.

The paper explains that even though, by law, any contracts connected to the world of art should be sent to the PJ “to avoid the sale of stolen objects”, practically this doesn’t tend to happen when sales are made abroad. All that is required in these instances is a “declaration of honour, confirming the works belong to the seller and that they are free of any encumbrances or obligations…”

Clearly, in this case, Mr Rendeiro gave this declaration of honour – and no-one sought to check it was valid. A simple internet search would have very quickly shown his art collection was the subject of court seizure back in 2010.

Says Expresso, the situation now could become very complicated for Mr Rendeiro’s wife.

There is the possibility that Judge Loureiro Gomes could order the seizure of the contents of the couple’s mansion home. As reports have already explained, if this happens, Mrs Rendeiro would be left with only a bed, a fridge, and a cooker.

UPDATE FRIDAY:

SIC television news has reported that a lawyer acting for BPP (which is in the process of liquidation) claims Mr Rendeiro has actually sold EIGHT works of art (not just three), for a total gain of €1.3 million…

As for the questioning of Mr Rendeiro’s wife, Maria de Jesus, this did not happen as planned because she has been described as “not having the psychological conditions” for it.

In fact SIC reports that Mrs Rendeiro’s lawyer told the session that her client did not want to give any statements because the case could develop into one of crime.

“Judge Tânia Loureiro Gomes insisted that this case is not about crime, and that Maria de Jesus is not an ‘arguida’ (official suspect), she is simply being heard as a faithful trustee of the art works”. But the answer remained, that Mrs Rendeiro was not in “psychological or emotional conditions” to be questioned.

BPP’s lawyer Miguel Coutinho is described as pressing for the court to order the seizure of the entire contents of the mansion.

The judge however decided to suspend the audience, explains SIC, “leaving decisions for a later date”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com