$8 million Basquiat smuggled into the United States returned to Brazil
On 19 June 2015, an $8 million Basquiat and a Roman statue that were illegally smuggled into the US were returned to the Brazilian government at a ceremony in New York. The works were smuggled by Edemar Cid Ferreira, a convict fraudster from São Paulo.
Ferreira, the founder and former president of the Banco Santos in Brazil, was convicted of fraud and money laundering a sum of $1 billion in 2005. He had an art collection of 12,000 artworks with an estimated value of between $20 million and $30 million. Ferreira was sentenced to 21 years in prison. The government seized his art collection but found that part of the collection was missing.
Ferreira, a former president of the São Paulo Biennial and an art patron, is believed to have removed around a third of his collection. Missing works included the painting Hannibal (1982) by New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and the Roman statue that have now been returned. These two works, falsely identified and declared as having a total value of $100, were transported from the Netherlands to New York in 2007.
To date, five out of the 400 works from Ferreira’s collection have been recovered in the US. In September 2010 and May 2014, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York returned the three other artworks by Roy Lichtenstein, Joaquin Torres-Garcia, and Serge Poliakoff.