Joe Berardo

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Joe Berardo

Joe berardo.jpg
José Manuel Rodrigues Berardo

(1944-07-04) 4 July 1944 (age 78)[1]
Santa Luzia, Madeira, Portugal
Occupation(s)Businessman, investor, and art collector
Carolina da Conceição Gonçalves
(m. 1969)
RelativesIlse Everlien Berardo (sister-in-law)
Rubina Berardo (niece)

José Manuel Rodrigues "Joe" Berardo GCIH, ComIH (born 4 July 1944), is a Portuguese and South African businessman, investor, and art collector. According to Portuguese magazine Exame, he had an estimated net worth of €598 million in 2010, making him one of the wealthiest people in Portugal at the time.[2] Starting around the 2010–2014 Portuguese financial crisis when both the Portuguese Republic finances and banking system collapsed, he has been involved in several controversies and legal issues which have led to the arrestment of his bank accounts, his companies' assets and himself due to ongoing legal investigations.


Early life[edit]

Berardo was born in 1944 at Santa Luzia, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, the son of Manuel Berardo Gomes and Ana Rodrigues. 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.[3]

Return to Portugal[edit]

As a very wealthy stock investor, Joe Berardo was a central personality on the Portuguese stock exchange in the 2000s, and became noted for his remarks as activist shareholder and the media frenzy it generated at times. His businesses included hotels, tobacco, animal food, telecommunications, banking and wines. Berardo's estimated total wealth, including stock in large Portuguese banking and telecommunications companies, was at a time at over €1.9 billion.[3]

Berardo made long-term investments in large companies such as Millennium BCP bank and Portugal Telecom (PT) telecommunications operator, which were both listed on the Euronext Lisbon. In 2006, he took a prominent part in the struggle against's very publicized takeover bid over Portugal Telecom.'s takeover bid opposing Belmiro de Azevedo (founder and historical chairman of Sonae holding company) and his son Paulo Azevedo (head officer of telecommunications operator at the time) to the investor Berardo and PT's administrators Zeinal Bava and Henrique Granadeiro, failed.[3]

In June 2007, Berardo made a bid for 60% of Sport Lisboa e Benfica - Futebol, S.A.D.'s shares at €3.50 a share,[4][5] 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 S.L. Benfica - Futebol, S.A.D. at €52.5 million. However, Berardo did not 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 paying member of S.L. Benfica (sócio) and a declared supporter of the club, failed to become the largest individual stockholder in the club's S.A.D., since only about 1% of the intended stock was sold to him as of the 20 August 2007 deadline.[citation needed]

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.[6] 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.[7]

Art collection[edit]

Berardo is one of the leading contemporary art collectors in Portugal. An inveterate collector, he started as a schoolboy with stamps, postcards and matchboxes, and later transitioned 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.[8] Much of his art collection has in the past been used as collateral to borrow from banks.[8]

Berardo went public with his collection in 1997, displaying works at an old casino in Sintra, and then at the Centro Cultural de Belém cultural center, in Lisbon.[8] 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[9] at the Centro Cultural de Belém.[10] Much as the Spanish state did with the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid,[8] 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.[11] The Museu Colecção Berardo was inaugurated on 25 June 2007. Berardo's 35-hectare sculpture park in Quinta dos Loridos, north of Lisbon, opened in phases since 2006.[12] 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).[9] In 2011, Berardo set up the Aliança Underground Museum, a paid (5€ minimum) exhibition of tiles, ethnographic art, ceramics, minerals and fossils in an unused tunnel on a winemaker's property in Sangalhos.[9] 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.[13]

Controversies and legal issues[edit]

Throughout his life, Berardo has been related to several controversial situations that have reached the media:

  • In 1990, Berardo was summoned to the Commission of Inquiry van Zyl for the illegal export of cycads, diverting them from the Transvaal to Madeira, and declared the value of the plants for less than one tenth of the value their purchase. The same Commission points to a close relationship between Berardo and Apartheid leader and Foreign Minister Pik Botha as facilitator of these operations.[14]
  • In 2007, he increased his stake in BCP using a € 1 billion loan in the context of a "war" for power with the other shareholders. Suspicious links have been reported with the funding banks - BCP, of which it is the chairman of the Compensation and Welfare Board, CGD and BES - which have done so against a guarantee of only 75% of the Berardo Collection (valued at 316 million euros in 2007)[15][16][17]
  • In 2008, Berardo appeared in the press related to the real estate speculation that he would have made in the Alvor River (located in the Monchique Range), having the price of the Quinta da Rocha estate passed from 500 thousand to 14 million euros.[18]

CGD Affair[edit]

  • In 2009, he was not required to regularize the interest of the 2007 loan, by the new management of Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD), since if this were not done, the guarantees would have to be activated with the result that the state bank, given the financial vehicle used, would hold a very significant stake (10%) of BCP.[19]
  • On 1 February 2012, it was declared by CGD, Banco Espírito Santo and Banco Comercial Português that they had given up the money they owed.[20]
  • In 2019, it became public that Berardo owes 980 million euros to Banco Comercial Português, Novo Banco and CGD.[21][22][23] This prompted the Assembly of the Republic to hold an inquiry of Berardo, within the inquiry committee on the CGD bank's management, after which the Portuguese parliament decided to forward Berardo's declarations to the Public Ministry, in order to start the investigation on potential crimes committed.[24]
    • In June CGD requested in court, obtained favourable decision, the arrestment of Berardo's assets and bank accounts owned by his company. The court resorted to the uncommon procedure of disregarding of the collective legal personality of Berardo's company.[25]
    • In July Berardo's 10 million euro real estate, owned through Berardo Foundation, Monte Palace Gardens, located in Funchal, was also put under interlocutory injunction. Under this injunction it is impossible for Berardo, or his foundation, to sell the property until its market value is determined and how his debt is to be paid.[26]


In June 2021, Berardo became a named suspect (arguido status in the Portuguese legal system) and was arrested by members of the Polícia Judiciária for alleged fraud committed against the bank Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD) and a number of other financial crimes.[27]

Honours and awards[edit]

National honours[edit]

Disciplinary procedure[edit]

Under the CGD affair, the Portuguese Orders National Council was convened on 17 May 2019, presided by Manuela Ferreira Leite, to initiate a disciplinary procedure on whether the President of the Republic should or not strip Berardo from the ranks of the Order of Prince Henry.[29] The Council's President appointed the former President of the Assembly of the Republic, Mota Amaral, to lead the investigation related to disciplinary procedure, which included collection of written and audio material from the Portuguese parliament's CDG Affair inquiry committee.[30][31] The disciplinary procedure results are expected to be presented to Portuguese Orders National Council on 20 December 2019.[32]

Since the disciplinary procedure was initiated, Berardo has publicly apologized for his conduct during the Assembly of the Republic's inquiry.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The collector". Museu Coleção Berardo. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  2. ^ Top ten richest people in Portugal in Exame (in Portuguese)
  3. ^ a b c Biography of José Berardo Archived 2007-07-03 at the Wayback Machine, in Diário Económico (in Portuguese)
  4. ^ Duarte, Pedro (15 June 2007). "Joe Berardo lança OPA para controlar Benfica" [Joe Berardo launches takeover bid to control Benfica]. Diário Económico (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 2 June 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  5. ^ Duarte, Pedro (15 June 2013). "OPA incide sobre 60% do capital da SAD do Benfica" [Takeover bid focuses on 60% of Benfica SAD's capital]. Diário Económico (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 25 December 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  6. ^ Berardo vai receber medalha de 25 anos de sócio Archived 2007-11-18 at the Wayback Machine, article in Jornal Record, 17 November 2007 (in Portuguese)
  7. ^ Berardo quer ajudar Archived 2007-11-20 at the Wayback Machine, article in Jornal Record, 19 November 2007 (in Portuguese)
  8. ^ a b c d Colin Gleadel (13 September 2010), Jose Berardo interview for Vilamoura sculpture park in the Algarve The Daily Telegraph.
  9. ^ a b c Seth Sherwood (18 February 2011), In Lisbon, Sowing the Seeds of Culture New York Times.
  10. ^ "The foundation was created by Decree-Law 164/2006 of 9 August". Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 27 October 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link) (from the Ministry of Culture) accessible from the search engine for the Diário da República, the Portuguese Government's official gazette. (in Portuguese)
  11. ^ Vernon Silver and Anabela Reis (3 February 2010), Billionaire Whistle-Blower Loses $730 Million Alleging Fraud Bloomberg.
  12. ^ Gareth Harris (1 January 2013), Portuguese billionaire adds works inspired by Bamiyan Buddhas to his vast sculpture park Archived 2013-01-15 at the Wayback Machine The Art Newspaper.
  13. ^ Gareth Harris (8 December 2012), Miami Beach could get even more Art Deco The Art Newspaper.
  14. ^ Vuuren, Hennie van (2006). ""Apartheid Grand Corruption: Assessing the scale of crimes of profit in South Africa from 1976 to 1994"". Information Portal on Corruption in Africa. Archived from the original on 16 August 2014. Retrieved 11 February 2008.
  15. ^ "Análise ao Caso BCP". SIC. 28 July 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2010.
  16. ^ "Expresso | Banca salva Berardo da falência". Jornal Expresso (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  17. ^ Campos, Anabela; Lima, Pedro (1 August 2008). "Berardo, a arte da dívida" (PDF). Exame. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 December 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  18. ^ Oliveira, José Manuel (11 February 2008). "Berardo ganha 14 milhões com quinta em Alvor". Diário de Notícias. Archived from the original on 14 February 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  19. ^ Rosa, Luís (25 June 2010). "Filipe Pinhal ao ataque!" (PDF). Semanário Sol. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 September 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  20. ^ "Joe Berardo está falido: CGD, BES e BCP desistiriam de cobrar dívidas ao empresário". (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  21. ^ "Bancos tentam cobrar 980 milhões de dívida de Joe Berardo". (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  22. ^ Reis, Rodolfo Alexandre (8 April 2019). "Bancos avançam com processo contra Joe Berardo para liquidar dívida de 980 milhões". O Jornal Económico (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  23. ^ "BCP, Novo Banco e CGD avançam com processo contra Joe Berardo por dívida de 980 milhões". JM Madeira (in European Portuguese). 8 April 2019. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  24. ^ Botelho, Leonete. "Declarações de Berardo na comissão de inquérito vão chegar ao Ministério Público". PÚBLICO (in Portuguese). Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  25. ^ Observador; Observador. "Tribunal arresta duas casas a Joe Berardo no valor de 4 milhões de euros". Observador (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  26. ^ Cardoso, Francisco José. "Arresto de bens de Berardo confirmado". (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  27. ^ Berardo arrested for fraud committed against Caixa Geral de Depósitos
  28. ^ a b "Cidadãos Nacionais Agraciados com Ordens Portuguesas". Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
  29. ^ Adam, Leonete Botelho, Mariana. "Conselho da Ordens decide na sexta-feira se tira condecorações a Berardo". PÚBLICO (in Portuguese). Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  30. ^ RTP, RTP, Rádio e Televisão de Portugal-. "Mota Amaral lidera processo relativo a condecorações de Berardo". (in Portuguese). Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  31. ^ "Condecorações de Joe Berardo decididas em dezembro". Semanario SOL (in Portuguese). Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  32. ^ "Já há decisão sobre as condecorações de Joe Berardo". JM Madeira (in European Portuguese). 29 November 2019. Retrieved 29 November 2019.