Eike Batista was once Brazil’s richest man with a net worth of about £25billion and placed 7th on Forbes’ list of billionaires, but misfortune hit in 2013. His oil and commodities companies collapsed. In a bid to rebuild his billion-dollar empire, he has resorted to what some may see as superstition.
The flamboyant businessman tossed over 700 thousand Brazilian reais (£130,000) in gold coins onto the waves off the coast of Rio de Janeiro’s Ipanema beach last month after a Brazilian African religious leader advised he needed to appease a water-bound deity Yamanja, known as the queen of the seas, for his past ‘ungrateful’ actions.
‘He came to me for help and I told him that everything he had taken from the sea has to be returned in some way and this could be done by a ritualistic gesture showing gratitude,’ said Ubirajara Pinheiro, a medium and a priest of the Umbanda religion – a syncretic polytheistic belief that draws on African spiritual traditions mixed with elements of Roman Catholicism.
‘Most of (Eike’s) recent business explorations were connected to the ocean and you cannot remove ore from the earth without thanking and giving back,’ warned Pinheiro, who has been a practicing mystic for over 30 years.
‘It’s only after we’ve been punished by God do we then see the wrong we have done,’ he added.
In 2013, Batista suffered one of the largest personal and financial collapses in corporate history losing 99 percent of his £25billion fortune when his six company commodities empire, which included offshore gas and oil exploration, and gold and iron ore mining, went bust defaulting on the largest corporate debt in the history of a Latin American company.
Batista however is undeterred in his quest to regain his former glory, he admits he is highly superstitious and has employed the services of psychics in the past to guide his business, what’s more, he believes he will be able to roll back the tide of misfortune.
Chartering a yacht, he took to sea to perform a ceremony that involved placing the gold coins in a small vessel with flowers, perfume, champagne and a statue of Yemanja. The little boat was then pushed out to sea in the presence of Pinheiro who led prayers, meditation and chanting.
Asked if this is an expensive way to make amends, Pinheiro who is based in Rio said : ‘It is not about the quantity it is a matter of faith. Many years ago when (Eike) visited my house I warned him what would happen.’
It has been a spectacular fall from giddy heights for the father-of-two who bought his first goldmine aged just 24, Last year, federal police went to his house, seizing a Lamborghini and six other cars, additional assets and 90,000 reals (£22,000) in cash from the homes of Brazil’s once-richest man.