NEW YORK — An $8 million painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat has been located in a Manhattan warehouse after apparently being smuggled out of Brazil, federal prosecutors said.
Prosecutors filed papers Wednesday seeking to seize the 1982 painting, called “Hannibal,” in an effort to help Brazilian authorities claim it.
U.S. authorities said Wednesday they found the painting in an Upper East Side warehouse in November.
A courier had brought the painting from London into the U.S. via John F. Kennedy International Airport in August. No mention of the work’s celebrated creator was made and the painting was valued at merely $100 on customs declaration forms, prosecutors said.
Its last known owner was Edemar Cid Ferreira, the former owner of Banco Santos and one of Brazil’s largest art collectors. The bank went bankrupt in September 2005, leaving behind debts of over $1 billion.
Ferreira was convicted in Brazil on charges including money laundering and bank fraud. He was ordered to begin serving a 21-year sentence in December 2006, but was released while his appeal winds through the courts.
A Brazilian court ordered the seizure of $20 million to $30 million worth of art, saying Ferreira and his relatives and associates had bought the works with proceeds of illegal schemes, according to U.S. prosecutors.
But “Hannibal” — described as an acrylic, oil stick and paper collage on canvas — was missing.
Basquiat rocketed to art-world prominence in the 1980s, lauded for his strong use of color and the social commentary in his work. He died of a heroin overdose in 1988, at 27.
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