The art of corruption: the vice-president of Equatorial Guinea's astonishing collection of masterpieces


Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of the long-serving president of Equatorial Guinea and vice-president in his own right, is under formal investigation by French judges for money laundering. At the heart of the affair are claims that Obiang, who is also defence minister and interior minister, has plundered his country's natural wealth to amass a fabulous collection of late nineteenth art worth 104 million dollars that lined the walls of his luxurious home in Paris. Meanwhile 60% of Equatorial Guinea's population have to survive on less than a dollar a day. Fabrice Arfi investigates.

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When police officers seized the Paris property of Equatorial Guinea's vice-president Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, they discovered a home that resembled a private museum. Inside this luxury 101-room building at 42 Avenue Foch in one of the French capital's most exclusive districts was a veritable treasure trove of late 19th century masterpieces. Works by Renoir, Degas, Chagall, Matisse, Monet and Toulouse-Lautrec, bought for a total of nearly 104 million dollars, lined the walls. According to documents seen by Mediapart, this astonishing collection of art amassed by Teodoro Obiang – usually known as Teodorin to distinguish him from his father the country's long-serving president - was paid for by plundering the wealth of Equatorial Guinea, which is rich in natural resources but where more than half of the people live in abject poverty.