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Reuters/Ricardo Moraes
Make me rich again.
SUMMONING IEMANJA

Brazil’s once-richest man has resorted to throwing gold coins and champagne into the sea as offerings

By Ana Campoy

Eike Batista, Brazil’s fallen energy and mining magnate, wants to make peace with the gods.

In traditional Brazilian custom, Batista last month released an offering to Iemanjá, goddess of the sea, off the Rio de Janeiro coast. In addition to the flowers and perfume normally presented to the Afro-Brazilian deity, he threw in 700 gold coins and several champagne bottles, newspaper Extra reported (link in Portuguese) this week.

He made the offering, valued at more than 700,000 reais (around $185,000) at the recommendation of two videntes, or fortune tellers, one of whom recounted the episode to the publication.

“I told him that everything he took from the sea had to be returned and given thanks for,” the fortune teller, who wished to remain anonymous, told Extra. “All that he explored in the past few years was linked to the sea.”

Batista’s financial troubles stem from the collapse of OGX Petróleo e Gas, which he created to prospect for offshore oil. The wells never delivered, triggering a debt and investor-confidence crisis that spread to his other businesses. Once the richest person in Brazil—and the seventh wealthiest in the world—he lost $34.5 billion in the process. Brazilian authorities have confiscated Batista’s assets, including a yacht named dubbed Spirit of Brazil and a Fabergé egg (paywall.)  They have also accused him of insider trading (paywall.)

Other Brazilians have been making their own petitions to the Lady of the Sea, asking her to put an end to the country’s economic and political woes. Although more than 60% of Brazil’s population is Catholic, Afro-Brazilian deities also have a strong following. Iemanjá, also known as Yemanja, attracts thousands of devotees every year to beach celebrations (Portuguese) in her honor.

Batista’s offering has quickly become the butt of jokes. A column on Folha de São Paulo on Thursday (March 3) called it a bribe (Portuguese, paywall) adding that “Iemanjá is giving it back. Because Iemanjá doesn’t accept kickbacks.”

Following the news, treasure hunters took to the beaches of Ipanema (Portuguese) with rakes in hopes of finding one of the gold pieces, Extra reported.