According to the air bill slapped on the crate that arrived at Kennedy International Airport from London, an unnamed painting worth $100 was inside. Only later did federal investigators discover that it was by the American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and worth $8 million.
This painting, known as “Hannibal” after a word scribbled on its surface, was brought into the United States in 2007 as part of a Brazilian embezzler’s elaborate effort to launder money, the authorities say. It was later seized at a Manhattan warehouse by federal investigators who are now preparing to return it to Brazil at the behest of law enforcement officials there.
The painting’s seizure was a victory in the economy-rattling, billion-dollar fraud and money laundering case of Edemar Cid Ferreira, a former Brazilian banker who converted some of his loot into a 12,000-piece art collection.
For the rest of the story: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/arts/design/art-proves-attractive-refuge-for-money-launderers.html?hp&_r=0