Found: paintings from the collection of Brazilian money launderer

A Léger and a Basquiat belonging to Edemar Cid Ferreira have been identified


Two paintings, that went missing after a federal judge ordered that the art collection of convicted Brazilian money launderer Edemar Cid Ferreira be confiscated in February 2005, have been located.

British authorities are currently holding Fernand Léger’s painting Les Papillons (1937). The work was withdrawn from Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale on 5 February at the request of Brazilian law enforcement officials. The same painting had failed to sell at Christie’s New York on 9 May 2007 (est $1.5m-$2m). It was consigned to both auction houses by the same seller.

In the US, federal prosecutors filed court papers on 13 February requesting permission to seize an $8m painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat that was smuggled into the country.

Jorge Barbosa Pontes, director of Interpol Brazil, told The Art Newspaper that Basquiat’s Hannibal was offered to a US art dealer who alerted Brazilian investigators to its whereabouts. Court documents state that the painting was shipped from London to New York in August 2007 with a declared value of just $100. Acting on a tip from Brazilian officers, US Customs agents seized the painting from a storage facility in New York in November.

The two paintings are part of a group of 29 works currently sought by Interpol that include paintings by Francis Picabia, Robert Rauschenberg, and Cy Twombly, along with sculptures by Henry Moore and Anish Kapoor, among others (see right).

In 2006 a Brazilian court sentenced Mr Cid Ferreira, a former president of the São Paulo Biennial and founder of the non-profit organisation Brasil-Connects, to 21 years in prison for bank fraud and money laundering associated with his role as the head of the failed Banco Santos, which left behind $1bn in debts. He is currently free pending appeal. His lawyer was unavailable for comment.

The missing works

Paintings: Rufino Tamayo, Dos Figuras; Cy Twombly, Untitled; Frances Picabia, Les Calanques; Jean Dubuffet, Lieu Rouge au Chateau; Roy Lichtenstein, Modern Painting with Yellow Interweave; Robert Rauschenberg, Switch (Sauvage); Serge Poliakoff, Composition Abstraite; Joaquín Torres García, Figures dans une Structure; Miquel Barceló, Jaune avec Trous; Tracey Moffatt, Invocations (two works); Adriana Varejão, Tongue with Flower Pattern; Feng Zheng-Jie, China under 14

Sculptures: Henry Moore, Woman; Anish Kapoor, Untitled; Arcangelo Ianelli, Untitled; sculptor unknown Roman Togatos

Photographs: Julia Margaret Cameron, Kate Keown; Child’s portrait; Herbert George Ponting, The Hut at Cape Evans, Looking over to the Borne Glacier at Noon in the Fading Daylight; Nan Goldin, Siobhan and the Woods, Provincetown; Raoul Ubac, Mannequin of Salvador Dalí; Vik Muniz, Migrant Mother, After the Lange (Pictures of Ink); After Richard Serra (Pictures of Dust); Brassaï, Les Agents avec une Prostituée; Burt Stern, Portrait with no name; László Moholy-Nagy, Portrait with no Name

Source: Interpol, Brazil