|Born||José Manuel Rodrigues Berardo
4 July 1944
Santa Luzia, Madeira, Portugal
|Occupation||Businessman, stock investor, speculator, and art collector|
|Net worth||€598 million|
José Manuel Rodrigues Berardo, ComIH, GCIH (born 4 July 1944), best known as Joe Berardo, is a Portuguese businessman, stock investor, speculator, and art collector. According to Portuguese magazine Exame, he has an estimated net worth of €598 million, making him one of the wealthiest people in Portugal.
Berardo was born at Santa Luzia, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, in 1944, as the seventh child of a modest family. Berardo left school when he was 13 years old and got a low-ranked job in the winery sector of Madeira wine. At the age of 18, he emigrated to South Africa where he worked in horticulture distribution and eventually set up large commercial ventures, becoming at the end of the 20th century one of the most renowned and wealthiest Portuguese entrepreneurs. In South Africa, he created Egoli Consolidated Mines Ltd, a gold extraction company. Initially, the gold extraction was performed using low-value waste lands that were apparently being ignored. Later, the mining company started to deal with diamond mining as well. Berardo returned to Portugal in 1986.
As a very wealthy and active stock trader, Berardo is a central personality on the Portuguese stock exchange, Euronext Lisbon, where he trades large amounts of stock throughout the year, often having immediate capital gain as his only perceived goal. His businesses include hotels, tobacco, animal food, telecomunications, banking, and wines. Berardo's estimated total wealth, including stock in large Portuguese banking and telecommunications companies, is over €1.9 billion.
Berardo also has long-term investments in large companies, like Millennium BCP bank and Portugal Telecom (PT) telecommunications operator, which are both listed on the Euronext Lisbon. In 2006, he took a prominent part in the struggle against Sonae.com's very publicized takeover bid over Portugal Telecom. Sonae.com's takeover bid opposing Belmiro de Azevedo (founder and historical chairman of Sonae holding company) and his son Paulo Azevedo (ex-head officer of Sonae.com telecommunications operator and actual chairman of Sonae) to the investor Berardo and PT's administrators Zeinal Bava and Henrique Granadeiro, failed.
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In June 2007, Berardo made a bid for 60% of Sport Lisboa e Benfica - Futebol, S.A.D. shares at €3.50 a share, a 30% premium to the recent share price. But the price was well below the €5 a share set at Benfica's IPO in May 2007, when after an initial flurry of optimism the shares fell steadily to below €3 apiece, hammered hard by the team's fourth-place finish in the Portuguese Liga and the failure to make any great gains in European competition. Berardo's bid was not hostile, as reports said the Benfica management had been informed in advance and was generally in favor of the offer. Overall, the bid was worth some €31.5 million and was conditional on Berardo netting 50% of the company plus one share, to ensure control. The bid valued Sport Lisboa e Benfica - Futebol, S.A.D. at €52.5 million. However, Berardo didn't exclude a major stake in the Futebol, S.A.D., which could have been achieved within the 33% free float of publicly traded stock that was issued in the stock market in May 2007. Berardo, who is a registered member of Sport Lisboa e Benfica and a declared supporter of the club, failed to become the largest individual stockholder in the Benfica - Futebol, S.A.D. organization, since only about 1% of the intended stock was sold to him as of the 20 August 2007 deadline.
Club Sport Marítimo
After his failed attempt to bid on Benfica, Berardo refocused his attention on his hometown club Club Sport Marítimo, of which has also declared his support for and is a registered member also. On 17 November 2007, during the club's 97th anniversary celebration, he was honoured with a silver medal to commemorate his 25 years as a Marítimo member. He used the occasion to announce his interest in the clubs' new stadium plans, the Estádio do Marítimo, and offer his aid as a "supporter with passion" for the club.
Berardo has a special interest for modern art, being one of the most successful contemporary art collectors in Portugal. An inveterate collector, he started as a schoolboy with stamps, postcards and matchboxes and graduated to modern and contemporary art in the 1980s. His various collections, which include art deco and Chinese porcelain, encompass more than 40,000 works, of which some 1,200 are by well-known modern and contemporary artists with a reported value of $750 million. Much of his art collection has in the past been used as collateral to borrow from banks.
Berardo went public with his collection in 1997, displaying works at an old casino in Sintra, and then at the white stone fortress-like Centro Cultural de Belém, in Lisbon. By agreement with the Portuguese Government, a foundation (Fundação de Arte Moderna e Contemporânea—Colecção Berardo) was created to support the housing of his art collection of roughly 1,800 works at the Centro Cultural de Belém. Much as the Spanish state did with the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, the government agreed to house part of his collection and took a 10-year option to buy 862 paintings and sculptures for 316 million euros, based on a Christie's valuation in 2006. The Museu Colecção Berardo was inaugurated on June 25, 2007. Berardo's 35-hectare sculpture park in Quinta dos Loridos, north of Lisbon, opened in phases since 2006. When he read about the Taliban’s destruction of Afghanistan’s enormous stone Buddhas in Bamiyan in 2001, he bought a massive range of Buddhist statues, and created the Buddha Eden Gardens (about 45 minutes outside of Lisbon). In 2011, Berardo set up the Aliança Underground Museum, a free exhibition of tiles, ethnographic art, ceramics, minerals and fossils in an unused tunnel on a winemaker’s property in Sangalhos. In 2012, an exhibition of works from Berardo's Modern and contemporary collection, including pieces by Gerhard Richter, Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol, was on show at the Gary Nader Art Centre in Miami, Florida.
- Top ten richest people in Portugal in Exame (in Portuguese)
- Biography of José Berardo, in Diário Económico (in Portuguese)
- Berardo vai receber medalha de 25 anos de sócio, article in Jornal Record, November 17, 2007 (in Portuguese)
- Berardo quer ajudar, article in Jornal Record, November 19, 2007 (in Portuguese)
- Colin Gleadel (September 13, 2010), Jose Berardo interview for Vilamoura sculpture park in the Algarve The Daily Telegraph.
- Seth Sherwood (February 18, 2011), In Lisbon, Sowing the Seeds of Culture New York Times.
- The foundation was created by Decree-Law 164/2006 of 9 August at the Wayback Machine (archived October 11, 2007) (from the Ministry of Culture) accessible from the search engine for the Diário da República, the Portuguese Government's official gazette. (Portuguese)
- Vernon Silver and Anabela Reis (February 3, 2010), Billionaire Whistle-Blower Loses $730 Million Alleging Fraud Bloomberg.
- Gareth Harris (January 1, 2013), Portuguese billionaire adds works inspired by Bamiyan Buddhas to his vast sculpture park The Art Newspaper.
- Gareth Harris (December 8, 2012), Miami Beach could get even more Art Deco The Art Newspaper.