38-year-old German art collector fights extradition from Portugal to UK

A German art collector and socialite accused of committing a £ 1million fraud is fighting extradition to the UK after being arrested in Portugal, a court has heard.

Angela Gulbenkian, 38, reportedly pocketed £ 1,143,656.25 in payment for a coin called ‘Kusama’s Pumpkin’ by Yayoi Kusama, but never handed over the article.

She also allegedly stole an additional £ 50,000 from her friend, Jacqui Ball, who she said she would buy high-end artwork for.

Gulbenkian has been in detention since his arrest in Lisbon in June and has challenged his extradition to Portugal’s Supreme Court of Justice.

Pictured: Angela Gulbenkia, who is accused of committing £ 1million fraud and is fighting extradition to the UK after being arrested in Portugal

Judge David Tomlinson told Prospero House, one of London’s new Nightingale courts: “It has been confirmed to me today that the accused is in custody, either for release in Portugal or for a hearing. in crown court here. “

David Markham, prosecuting, has raised concerns about the current date of the February 8 trial.

He said: “That February date should not be canceled at this point, although obviously the closer we get to February, the greater the logistical difficulty.

“Obviously, we have an eye on the possibility that arises if and when Ms. Gulbenkian is extradited to this country and is in court and the timeframe between that date and the trial.

“Particularly with regard to the meaning of the statement of defense, which, given the complexity, may change.

“We have some concerns about the viability of February 8 if we even had the accused in court.”

She is said to have pocketed £ 1,143,656.25 in payment for a coin called

She reportedly pocketed £ 1,143,656.25 in payment for a coin called ‘Kusama’s Pumpkin’ by Yayoi Kusama (pictured) but never handed over the item

Gulbenkian grew up in Munich and married the great-grandnephew of oil magnate Calouste Gulbenkian, whose fortune funded a multibillion pound foundation and a Lisbon museum.

The Gulbenkians are considered to be one of the richest and most renowned art collecting families in Europe.

She has been heavily involved in the continental art world, marketing herself as a high-end broker.

In 2017, a Hong-King art company, Art Incorporated – owned by Mathieu Ticolat – claimed to have paid Gulbenkian more than $ 1.3 million for the “Kusama pumpkin” but never received the piece. .

The company filed a civil lawsuit that resulted in a global freeze on Gulbenkian’s assets.

She was later accused by her masseuse and friend Jacqui Ball of stealing £ 50,000 after also claiming to be an art broker, but again not delivering anything.

Gulbenkian denied the two robbery counts last September and gave his apartment address at Battersea Power Station.

She had been released on unconditional bail ahead of a trial, originally scheduled for May 11, but an arrest warrant was issued against her when she failed to appear in court in February.

Who is Yayoi Kusama?

World-renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (pictured in 2017) is one of TIME magazine's 100 most influential people

World-renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (pictured in 2017) is one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people

World-renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, known as the “Queen of Peas,” has been named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

Kusama, 88, is known for her use of bright colors in her artwork which often depicts polka dots and spotted pumpkins.

She often appears in a wheelchair and sporting her trademark red wig.

Born in 1929 in Nagano Prefecture, central Japan, Kusama suffered psychological trauma from quarrels between her parents and was already drawing dots and nets in her childhood based on her hallucinatory experiences.

After moving to the United States in 1957 at the age of 28, Kusama became a staple of the Pop and Minimalism art movements of the 1960s.

Kusama's yellow pumpkin

Kusama’s yellow pumpkin

During a 16-year stay in New York, she staged “happenings” at the height of the sexual liberation movement where people stripped naked and had their bodies painted in polka dots on Wall Street or Central Park.

By the time Kusama returned to Japan in 1973, she was exhausted and voluntarily placed in a psychiatric ward where she has lived ever since.

It wasn’t until the 1990s that Kusama was “rediscovered”.

Her commercial success was highlighted when she collaborated with Louis Vuitton in 2012 and she was named the world’s most popular artist in 2014 by the Art Newspaper.

Norma D. Ross