A number of artworks were damaged as Brazilian rightwing supporters stormed the nation’s capital building this past Sunday in Brasília. In scenes eerily similar to the January 6 United States Capitol attack, supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro breached through the halls of the Oscar Niemeyer-designed Palácio do Planalto in protest of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva‘s recent presidential victory.
Amongst the collection of art damaged, rioters punctured holes through Emiliano Di Cavalcanti’s vibrant Mulatas painting, which is worth around $1.5m USD. O Flautista, a bronze sculpture by Bruno Giorgi was largely destroyed and scattered throughout the third floor of the building; chairs by Jorge Zalszupin, a Polish-born Jew who survived the Holocaust and fled to Brazil subsequently becoming one of the country’s top designers, were ripped out of the ground and thrown into the streets.
Rioters also destroyed a 17th Century grandfather clock by Balthazar Martinot, who once served as Louis XIV’s watchmaker, which was gifted by France to former Brazil and Portuguese King Dom Joao IV.
“The value of what was destroyed is incalculable because of the history it represents,” said Director of Curatorship of the Presidential Palaces, Rogério Carvalho in a statement.
While the riots are shocking, many in the international community are not surprised as Bolsonaro, who is sometimes referred to as the ‘Trump of Latin America’, has spent years stoking the flames of doubt within Brazil’s presidential system. Officials are still assessing the damage to both the building and artworks stored within.
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