Brazilian police have found artwork worth millions of pounds stolen from an elderly widow in an alleged plot with a fortune teller.
Officers believe six people were involved in the theft of the 16 paintings, which have been valued at more than 700 million reais (£113 million).
The launch featured museum-quality pieces by Brazilian artists Tarsila do Amaral and Emiliano Di Cavalcanti.
Police say a plot to steal the works was orchestrated by the widow’s 82-year-old daughter, who was married to an art collector and dealer.
A video showed the moment officers discovered more than 10 pieces under a bed, with Sol Poente – a famous Do Amaral painting of a sunset – found at the bottom of the pile.
“Wow. Look who’s here. Little beauty. Glory,” an officer could be heard shouting as he removed the bubble wrap from the artwork.
The widow’s daughter was among those arrested on Wednesday, according to local media.
Police say the paintings were not taken in a heist, but through a scam involving a self-proclaimed fortune teller.
In January 2020, the “fortune teller” approached the widow in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, and informed her that her daughter was sick and would die soon, police said.
It is claimed that the widow, who has mystical beliefs, was forced to transfer a total of 5 million reais (£803,456) to the scammer over the course of two weeks for alleged spiritual treatment.
Her daughter allegedly fired the staff at her home to allow her accomplices to enter and take the artwork.
After the work was stolen, the group threatened the widow and she transferred more money, police said.
Of the 16 pieces, three were found in an art gallery in São Paulo, where the owner said he had bought them directly from the woman’s daughter.
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He told police that he had also sold two more to the Museum of Latin American Art in Buenos Aires.
The world-renowned museum’s founder, Eduardo Constantini, bought the works for his personal collection and possibly for future display, a spokesman told the Associated Press.