Son of ex-Venezuela official in South Florida starts to feel pain of corruption
Online auction of ex-Venezuelan official's 14 horses nets $2M for U.S.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Hugo Chavez's socialist revolution was good to Emanuel Andrade, but now that authorities in the United States and Europe are working to isolate embattled President Nicolas Maduro, he is among the Venezuelans whose opulent lifestyle in South Florida may be coming to an end.
The 22-year-old Venezuelan migrant wasn't afraid to use social media to brag about his flights in private jets with Louis Vuitton bags. Local Venezuelans know about his rest and relaxation at sea in yachts and his shopping sprees at Miami's Design District boutiques.
His 80,000 followers on Instagram know he loves puppies, wine and traveling with his boyfriend Carlo Magno, and that there is nothing he loves more than his horses. He has a horse tattooed on his left arm, and he also he also has a horseshoe on his right arm.
"A horse is not just a horse, he is sanity, he is happiness," said a graphic he shared a few years ago. "He is a teacher, a therapist, a best friend."
Andrade, a former Olympic equestrian, was obsessed with his show-jumping horses in Wellington. This week, U.S. authorities sold his pride and joy, the "Hardrock Z" stallion, for $282,000. The brown stallion was among his family's 14 horses sold during an online auction for $2,086,500.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury will be taking the money. The horse had been a part of Andrade's life since he was a boy. He rode it when he competed at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the International Federal for Equestrian Sports (known as FEI from its French name) World Equestrian Games and the FEI Nations Cup finals.
It was likely that as a teenage equestrian rider, he understood that the wealth that he was enjoying was thanks to his father's relationship with Chavez. In 2014, he used Twitter to send a message to Chavez nearly a year after his death.
"I have missed you so much these past days, [Chavez]," Andrade wrote to his more than 100,000 followers. "You were always a very special person with me and my family. We love you. Forever."
Chavez's socialism made it possible for a former bodyguard to have his son living the same lifestyle as Steve Jobs' daughter Eve Jobs and Bill Gates' daughter Jennifer Gates, two equestrians who are Wellington regulars.
Andrade benefited from Chavez's guilt. An injury his father suffered during a game with Chavez at the presidential palace sealed his fate. Investigators say it was Chavez who granted him the access to power that prosecutors say resulted in bribes.
Andrade's 54-year-old father, Alejandro Andrade, lost his right eye during a game of chapita, the Venezuelan street baseball game that uses metal bottle caps instead of balls. His father, later known as Lt. "Chapita," was the batter and Chavez was the pitcher.
Chavez and Andrade were graduates of the Military Academy of Venezuela. Chavez was in the class of 1975 and Andrade was class of 1987. Chavez had Andrade's support during the unsuccessful coup of 1992 and was his bodyguard when he became president in 1998.
Chavez rewarded his loyalty with a job as the president's private secretary. Without any experience in finance or economics, Andrade became Venezuela's national treasurer in 2007. He held the post for three years and was the president of the Economic and Social Development Bank of Venezuela until 2010.
After Chavez declared there was an "economic war" in Venezuela, Alejandro Andrade began to flaunt his wealth in Palm Beach County and his son followed in his footsteps on social media.
At 15 years old, Emanuel Andrade scored a win at the Hampton Classic in Bridgehampton, New York, and at the $25,000 A-T Children’s Benefit Grand Prix at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington.
Despite living like millionaires, the Andrade family wasn't happy. In 2016, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to a domestic violence incident. According to deputies, Emanuel Andrade said he had pulled out a knife on Alejandro Andrade during an argument because he was tired of his father "controlling him."
It will be hard for his father to try to control him now. He was charged with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and after he accepted a plea deal, U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg sentenced him to 10 years in prison in November.
With attorney Curtis B. Miner, a Harvard Law School graduate based out of Coral Gables, representing him in court, Andrade read a statement saying he felt "enourmous pain and remorse" about his participation in a $1 billion bribery scheme to defraud the Venezuelan government.
On Monday, he started to serve his sentence. This week's online auction is just the beginning of the Andrade's lifestyle change. U.S. authorities will continue to sell their real estate properties in Palm Beach County, 35 watches and 10 cars.
The list of watches includes a Rolex Platinum, a Patek and an Audemars Piguet, and the list of cars includes a Porsche Cayenne and a Mercedez Benz AMG G63. The real estate properties include two mansions on Sunnyland Lane in Wellington and a home in Delray Beach.
COVERAGE OF VENEZUELA
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