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Art work stolen from elderly widow 'in bizarre soothsayer plot' found by police in Brazil

Millions of pounds worth of art work stolen from an elderly widow in an alleged plot involving a soothsayer has been found by police in Brazil.

Officers believe six people were involved in stealing the 16 paintings, which have been valued at more than 700 million reais (£113 million).

The haul included museum-quality pieces from Brazilian artists Tarsila do Amaral and Emiliano Di Cavalcanti.

Police say a plot to steal the works was orchestrated by the daughter of the 82-year-old widow, who was married to an art collector and dealer.

A video showed the moment officers discovered more than 10 pieces underneath 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," one officer could be heard shouting as she removed bubble wrap from the art work.

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 rather through a con including a self-proclaimed soothsayer.

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 the widow, who holds mystical beliefs, was compelled to transfer a total of 5 million reais (£803,456) to the con artist over the course of two weeks for supposed spiritual treatment.

Her daughter allegedly then fired staff at their home to allow her accomplices to enter and take the pieces of art.

After the work was stolen, the group then threatened the widow, and she transferred more money, police say.

Of the 16 pieces, three were found in an art gallery in Sao Paulo, where the owner said he had bought them directly from the woman's daughter.

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He told police he had also sold two others to the museum of Latin American Art in Buenos Aires.

The world-renowned museum's founder Eduardo Constantini purchased the works for his personal collection, and to possibly put on display in the future, a spokesman told Associated Press.

Sky News

(c) Sky News 2022: Art work stolen from elderly widow 'in bizarre soothsayer plot' found by police in Brazil

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