Ricardo Metler, a former bodyguard of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, has claimed that a Pierneef painting that he allegedly stole was given to him by Magashule as a gift.
Metler is currently being tried in the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein. In 2018, a JH Pierneef painting worth approximately R8 million was allegedly removed from a safe in Magashule’s office. Magashule was the premier of the Free State at the time.
Pierneef is widely considered one of South Africa’s greatest artists.
Metler allegedly used the painting as surety for a loan. He asked a businessman, Wei-Lin Hsu, for a loan of over R2 million and gave him the painting as collateral. Hsu had the painting valued by an auction firm where it became clear that the painting had been stolen.
Magashule claimed that he had not given the painting away. Metler said that the painting was missing a particular type of bar code, which would have identified it as state property.
The trial is still ongoing.