Sabine Boghici, art collector heiress, used fake psychics to scam millions of moms, police say
The daughter of a wealthy Brazilian art collector used fake fortune tellers to convince her mother that paintings belonging to the family were in possession and needed to be removed from the house as part of an elaborate scheme to defraud the family estate, according to a Brazilian police report.
Former model Sabine Boghici, 48, was arrested in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday for stealing $140 million worth of artwork and jewelry and mined money from her mother, Genevieve Boghici, the widow of the late Romanian art dealer Jean Boghici. , who had established a multi-million dollar business in Brazil. She is also charged with embezzlement, extortion and forcible confinement.
At some point in her late teens, Sabine reportedly became obsessed with dogs and kept dozens of them in family homes. She tried to pressure her mother into buying her an apartment just for the animals, according to Brazilian reports. When she refused, she allegedly began to take revenge on her mother, which led to her downfall.
Police chief Gilberto Ribeiro told Reuters the girl started stealing the works in 2020. Around that time, Brazilian news reports say she used the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for firing the domestic help staff who cared for her mother since her father’s death. When the mother resisted, she at one point held a knife to her neck to threaten her, her mother testified to the police.
Authorities said she also held her mother captive and tried to starve her to death before the mother hired a friend to change the locks on one of the family’s lavish apartments to prevent Sabine to enter.
Police say before imprisoning her mother, Sabine convinced friends to pose as psychics who allegedly accosted her mother outside a bank, telling her that her daughter’s ill-fated attempt to imprison her was because demons in the family artwork had possessed her. The “mediums” then visited the house, saying the paintings were “cursed with something negative, with negative energy to be prayed over,” Ribeiro said. They then extorted thousands of dollars from the widow, who paid to “purify” the paintings in an effort to save her wayward daughter.
“They took 16 paintings,” including works by renowned Brazilian artists, according to Brazilian outlet Metropolis, including three works by modernist painter Tarsila do Amaral worth $137.69 million, the official said.
The family made headlines in 2012 when a fire that broke out when the air conditioning was bypassed in Sabine’s bedroom destroyed the family’s apartment in Rio, destroying a number of valuable works and killing two of the family’s 16 cats, according to UOL News Brazil.
Previously, Sabine Boghici worked as a model for The One Agency, which led to a number of publicly available images of her, many around her father’s art collection.
Two accomplices of the former heiress were also arrested for complicity.