A Brazilian woman used fake psychics to steal over $150 million in art from her mother

Heist films need a shot in the arm. For too long, heist/thief movies have relied on the performances of a talented ensemble cast to compensate for the weak and convoluted scripts that typically power the genre. To be fair, it can't be easy to write a clever heist film for a litany of reasons. For starters, all of the good ideas have already found their way on screen. Well, most of the best ideas, that is. How about this one? A Brazilian woman uses a crew of fake psychics to swindle her elderly mother out of over $140 million dollars. See, I told you it was original.

The elaborate scheme began when the elderly mother, Genevieve Boghici, ran into a psychic that her daughter was under a "spiritual attack" that would put her health at risk. Falling prey to her superstitions, Boghici, the widow of an art collector, started fiancing other psychics to battle her daughter's illness. It turns out that Boghici's daughter hired the initial psychic and planned the whole thing.

Brazilian police have arrested a 48-year-old woman on suspicion that she defrauded her 82-year-old mother out of $142 million (724 million reais) worth of artwork, jewelry and money, Leonardo Benassatto reports for Reuters.

The bizarre case centers on Sabine Boghici, who police say devised an elaborate scheme to steal valuable paintings and other items from her mother, Genevieve Boghici, the wife of late art collector and dealer Jean Boghici, who founded one of Rio de Janeiro's first art galleries in 1961, reports the Art Newspaper's Gabriella Angeleti.

Police in Rio de Janeiro arrested Sabine Boghici and four accomplices on August 10; they're continuing to look for two additional suspects. The seven alleged perpetrators are facing charges of robbery, extortion, embezzlement, false imprisonment and criminal association.

Police say the saga began in January 2020, when a person purporting to be a psychic approached Genevieve Boghici as she was leaving a Rio de Janeiro bank and claimed that her daughter would die soon unless she received spiritual therapy. Genevieve Boghici began transferring money to the psychic to pay for the supposed therapy, reports El Pais' Joan Royo Gual.

Genevieve Boghici then visited several other psychics, who used information provided by her daughter to swindle the woman out of more money, per Reuters. The situation escalated when the psychics began threatening Genevieve Boghici, and her daughter forced her to stay at home. Sabine Boghici dismissed all of her mother's domestic workers and would not allow her mother to use the phone, per El Pais. As she became more suspicious, her daughter allegedly withheld food and put a knife to her throat.

During that time, Sabine Boghici and her accomplices began stealing artwork from the house, claiming that the paintings were "cursed with something negative, with negative energy that needed to be prayed over," Gilberto Ribeiro, a Rio de Janeiro police officer, tells Reuters. All told, the suspects stole 16 paintings and sculptures, including pieces by Brazilian artists Cicero DiasRubens GerchmanAlberto Guignard and Tarsila do Amaral.