News Brazil

Art worth $4.5m found hidden in Brazilian shipping container

Authorities in Rio de Janeiro are investigating whether the works are part of a money laundering scheme

Brazilian authorities discovered 20 contemporary works of art hidden in a shipping container coming from Florida, the Associated Press reports. The works, valued at $4.5m, were hidden among the belongings of a 75-year-old Brazilian woman and authorities suspect a company used her move to evade taxes. The Brazilian Ministry of Finance, Guido Mantega, said the art is believed to have been acquired at auctions abroad.

Works by contemporary artists such as the Brazilian Beatriz Milhazes and the twin graffiti artists known as Os Gêmeos (Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo) were found among the stash. A sculpture by Sérgio de Camargo valued at $900,000, was found in a second container, according to the Brazilian federal agency.

The authorities are also investigating whether the alleged smuggling is part of a money laundering scheme, said Ricardo Lomba, the chief inspector of finance for Rio de Janeiro, on Globo TV. Art can enter the country without being taxed as long as it is declared as baggage, but in this case the owners apparently tried to hide thier and the source of the money used to buy the works.

If the owners do not come forward and explain how the works were acquired, they will become part of the national art collection. In the meantime, the works have been transferred to the National Museum of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro where they will remain in storage.

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