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Stealing Paintings Using… Psychics?

August 18, 2022
Sol Poente by the modernist Brazilian painter Tarsila do Amaral, confiscated from an alleged psychic involved in the conspiracy to defraud the collector Genevieve Boghici

Sol Poente by Tarsila do Amaral, one of the paintings stolen from Boghici

I’m incredibly skeptical and often outright dismissive of the paranormal, especially when people use it to try to provide a service. This means ghost-hunters, psychics, mediums, astrologers, palm-readers, all that stuff. If you want to try to make sense of the universe through these things, go right ahead. But if you’re trying to make money off it, you’ll be met with suspicion from me. However, even though I think a lot of it is junk, that doesn’t mean I can’t find it entertaining, especially when people take it too seriously. This is what happened to an elderly art collector down in Brazil who was tricked by a ring of psychics and ended up losing some of her paintings in the process.

Genevieve Boghici assembled her art collection with her husband Jean, who passed away in 2015. Their collection is considered one of the finest in Brazil, known for featuring works by prominent Brazilian artists like Cicero Dias and Alberto Guignard. The Boghicis bought many paintings by Brazilian artists from European collections and returned them to their country of origin. The prominence of the collection only makes this recent story all the more shocking since it was the Boghicis’ own daughter Sabine who was accused of masterminding a strange plot to defraud her mother. In 2020, Sabine allegedly hired people to claim to be psychics. They contacted Genevieve and claimed to have received visions predicting Sabine’s death. It seems Sabine had given these psychics pieces of personal information so that they may gain her mother’s trust. These psychics charged Genevieve for “spiritual treatment” to prevent Sabine’s impending death. In the process, Sabine and the psychics stole at least sixteen paintings from Genevieve’s house, claiming they were all cursed and, therefore, sources of negative energy. The bulk of the loot’s value came from three paintings by the modernist Tarsila do Amaral. Just those three paintings alone are reported to be worth $135 million.

When Genevieve started to see through the scam, Sabine allegedly physically threatened her mother and attempted to keep her confined to her house. That’s when the police got involved. Authorities have recovered fourteen of the sixteen stolen paintings, most of them having been found in the home of one of the psychics. Police found some paintings inside a bed frame, including Amaral’s Sol Poente, which is said to be worth $59 million alone. The two paintings not yet recovered were sold to a museum in Buenos Aires and may take a little longer to get back. Four people, including Sabine, have been arrested, while three others remain large. The charges against them include embezzlement, extortion, robbery, criminal association, and false imprisonment. Who could have ever seen this coming? Well, if they actually did have psychic abilities, then maybe the perpetrators.