Woman defrauded elderly mother of $140million using ‘seers’ who claimed he was cursed, police say
The daughter of an elderly Brazilian woman was part of a bizarre scheme to defraud her mother of more than $100 million worth of artwork using a network of supposed psychics who claimed the paintings were cursed, says the police.
Sabine Coll Boghici, 48, conspired to defraud Geneviève Boghici, 82, out of art, jewelry and money worth around 724 million reais, or $142.42 million, Rio de Janeiro police said in a statement.
At least 16 paintings were stolen from the eldest, who was the widow of late art collector Jean Boghici, police said, adding that works by famous Brazilian artists like Cicero Dias, Rubens Gerchman and Alberto Guignard were among stolen ones.
Three of the works by modernist painter Tarsila do Amaral were estimated by the police at around 700 million reais, or $137.69 million, alone.
At least seven people were suspected of involvement in the years-long plot, police said after Coll Boghici was arrested on Wednesday. Several other people were also arrested and two of them are on the run, police said.
Police say the plot began in 2020, when Genevieve Boghici was approached by someone claiming to be a psychic who foresaw her daughter’s impending death.
She was then introduced to other psychics, who used the personal information provided by her daughter to trick her into believing their claims and hand her money for “spiritual treatment”, they added.
The suspects later allegedly threatened her physically while her daughter kept her confined to her home for months after she became suspicious of the situation, police added.
His daughter and a supposed psychic then began removing artwork from the house, claiming the paintings were cursed with negative energy that needed to be ‘prayed on’, said Rio de Janeiro police officer Gilberto Ribeiro , according to Reuters.
After almost a year of mistreatment, Geneviève Boghici turned to the police, who unraveled the astonishing alleged scam.
Police said they were able to recover a number of paintings, including 11 that were recovered during a raid on one of the seer’s homes on Wednesday.
Three paintings were recovered in Sao Paulo, while two were sold to a museum in Buenos Aires. They have yet to be recovered.
A video posted on social media appeared to show the moment a prized painting, “Sol Poente” or “Setting Sun” by Tarsila do Amaral, was recovered. Officers appeared to remove him from inside the bed frame, where he had been hidden under a mattress.
Police released a photo of officers holding the painting after it was seized.
They said those suspected of taking part in the crime face charges of embezzlement, robbery, extortion, forcible confinement and criminal association.