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Semafor LogoJ.D. Capelouto
newsSouth America

Rioters in Brazil vandalized over $1.6M worth of art in the presidential palace

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Title iconThe Number

Supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who stormed the nation's government buildings on Sunday destroyed artwork worth a total of over $1.6 million, according to initial estimates from government officials who said the true cost of the destroyed art is "incalculable" given its history.

Title iconThe Artwork

As mulatas

This mural by Brazilian painter Emiliano Di Cavalcanti, located in the Great Hall at the presidential palace, was found with seven tears, the office of new President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva said in a statement. The government estimated its value at over $1.5 million, but noted that similar pieces could cost five times higher in auctions.

Art work by Brazilian painter Di Cavalcanti is damaged, after the supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro participated in an anti-democratic riot at Planalto Palace.
REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

Wooden wall sculpture

A sculpture by Polish-Brazilian artist Frans Krajcberg was damaged in several places. The wooden branches on the piece were broken and thrown away. The piece is valued at over $57,000.

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O Flautista

This 1962 bronze sculpture by Bruno Giorgi was found completely destroyed, its pieces scattered on the floor, Lula's office said. It is valued at nearly $48,000.

Kubitschek table

A work table once used by former Brazilian President Juscelino Kubitschek, who was known for spearheading the construction of Brasilia as the nation's capital, was used as a barricade by the rioters and damaged. A full assessment of its condition hasn't been made. The table was designed by legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and his daughter Anna Maria. Niemeyer-deigned tables have gone for tens of thousands of dollars on the market.

Balthazar Martinot clock

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There are only two versions of this intricate, 17th century grandfather clock — a gift from the French to John VI of Portugal. The other is at the Palace of Versailles in France, but it is half the size of the clock in Brazil, which was completely destroyed, Lula's office said. The clock did not have an official valuation, but Lula's office said it was priceless.

Rogério Carvalho, who is in charge of curation at the presidential palace, said the restoration of the clock will be "very difficult." One of the most famous European clockmakers of his time, Martinot made clocks for King Louis XIV.

Bandeira do Brasil

This 1995 piece by Jorge Eduardo, which depicts Brazil's flag, served as a backdrop for presidential announcements. It was found floating in water on the ground floor of the palace, after the rioters opened fire hydrants, Lula's office said. The government did not list a value for the piece, but other paintings by Eduardo have gone for over $10,000 at auction.

Former presidents gallery and corridor

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A gallery of photographs of Brazil's former presidents was "completely destroyed," Lula's office said. All were thrown from the wall onto the floor and smashed.

And a corridor that leads to ministry offices was also a target of the rioters, with many framed photographs on the wall vandalized.

Title iconQuoteworthy
The value of what was destroyed is incalculable because of the history it represents. The collection is a representation of all the presidents who represented the Brazilian people during this long period ... This is its historical value. From an artistic point of view, Planalto [Palace] certainly has one of the most important collections in the country, especially Brazilian Modernism.

— Rogério Carvalho, director of curatorship of the Brazilian presidential palace

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