Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Trindade Island case photographer admits hoax


This Sunday, a major TV show in Brazil, “Fantastico”, aired a bombshell about the Trindade Island’s UFO (click for the original video and transcript in Portuguese). This is one of the most celebrated cases in ufology, so when a friend of the author of the famous photos, Almiro Barauna, tells in a recorded interview that she:

“heard from the photographer himself: he hoaxed the images, it was a montage. ‘He got two spoons, joined them and improvised a spaceship, using as background his home fridge. He photographed on the fridge door and object with a perfect lighting, because the calculated everything, he wasn’t dumb. He laughed a lot’, said Emilia Bittencourt.”

So this is a bombshell, especially because the TV show also reported that “Barauna’s files are with a niece, who didn’t want to record an interview, but she confirms the hoax.” A friend says she heard from the photographer details of how he hoaxed the world-famous UFO photos, and the niece who guards his files confirming it. A bombshell.

Since 2003 we have been calling attention to evidence that the photos may have been hoaxed, going from the inversion of the images of the UFO in different shots, to radical changes in background clouds while the elapsed time was claimed to be less than 20 seconds. In the years since then we have been ongoing on our research and found several new pieces of evidence, which will soon be presented in full.

Even so, the detail revealed by “Fantastico” and Bittencourt that the model used for the hoax was made up of two metallic spoons caught us by surprise – just as anyone else.


What a twist!

In another twist of the story, a little more than a day after the TV show aired, Barauna’s niece, through Jose Americo Medeiros, states that she actually didn’t confirm the hoax. And while some are already suggesting the TV show concocted the whole thing, one has to take all these statements with due caution.

I spoke with the responsible for the news report, Luiz Petry, an editor for more than a decade in one of the most viewed shows in the country. Petry has actually been the editor-in-chief of mostly all news reports about ufology from the beginning, being in close contact with researchers and knowing very well the field. And he stated very clearly that he stands by what has been aired: Barauna’s niece didn’t want to record an interview, but she did confirm the hoax to the TV show.

And while she is denying having said that, we still have Emilia Bittencourt’s clear statements of how she heard directly from Almiro Barauna how he hoaxed the photos. She may have more to say, and if she’s telling the truth, there may be other witnesses who also heard this story from Barauna, be they relatives or just close friends. Otherwise, her story, especially the details about how the hoax was accomplished may not hold up.

What we do know for certain is that Almiro Barauna did confess hoaxing a series of photos to fool a newspaper. And we are not talking about the “Mundo Ilustrado” humorous article where, four years before Trindade, he showed how to hoax flying saucer photos.

No, this was a confessed and deliberate hoax.


baraunatreasurehoax02“I sold a hoaxed story”

It was a spectacular success – and it was a trick”, says with a smile in his face Almiro Barauna on a video interview given in 1997 to Marco Antônio Petit, who sells it on a DVD. Barauna is referring to a series of four news reports about the alleged discovery of a buried treasure, complete with a chest and a skeleton.

We did this in agreement with Ubiratan Fernandes from ‘Cruzeiro’, Dalécio Vanderlei and another one. They were chatting on Cruzeiro that Calazans Fernandes [from ‘Tribuna da Imprensa’] was a very keen guy, that no one was able to fool” recalls Almiro.

I said ‘I will fool him’. I will make a trick and sell it to him. I did the trick and he bought it”, he says, again with a big smile in his face. “He then disliked me a lot”.

Barauna then say that Calazans, when the Trindade Island UFO photos showed up in 1958, tried to debunk him by publishing on ‘Tribuna da Imprensa’ details about his treasure chest trickery.

In fact, it was indeed a trick”, he admits once again. “But one thing had nothing to do with the other”, he concludes after thinking for a few moments.

You can see the subtitled video excerpt below, click on “cc” if the English subtitles don’t appear automatically.



Treasure chest hoax

Thanks to the work of historian Rodolpho Gauthier, you can see here three of the photos Barauna hoaxed for the treasure chest story. The alleged buried treasure in Espirito Santo was actually photographed in Saco de Sao Francisco in Niteroi, near his house, the skeleton was borrowed from the local Medical School and an old chest was used. Barauna himself appears in one of the photos, posing along with the hoaxed discovery.

By another amazing coincidence, besides having taught how to fake flying saucer photos shortly before Trindade, this fake tresure chest story was allegedly in Espirito Santo, but more precisely in Franceses Island. An island. Trindade Island, by the way, is also part of Espirito Santo state.

Another interesting coincidence is that as soon as he got authorization to sell the photos, he sold them to Diarios Associados, from the same folks of the Cruzeiro magazine with whom he concocted the treasure chest hoax. Cruzeiro magazine was also the responsible for the Barra da Tijuca hoax, which to end this series of coincidences in a full circle, was what Barauna was making fun of when he joked about how to create flying saucer photos.

But, there’s more. One could have the impression that Barauna revealed the treasure chest hoax shortly afterwards. But when the Trindade Island case reached the news in 1958, he stated to Jornal do Brasil:

Can you imagine, even that story about the treasure I photographed on Espirito Santo they say was blackmail”.

In 1997, Almiro Barauna, laughing a lot, finally admits that the treasure chest story was a hoax he photographed near his home, that “it was indeed a trick”. Did he confess the Trindade Island photos as a hoax to his family and friends? The bombshell may explode in stages. Or fizzle.


– – –

[This story about Barauna’s treasure chest hoax had already been published in SUNlite in the beginning of the year. Now, with a video excerpt of the DVD “Caso Trindade” by Marco Antônio Petit, and the collaboration of Rodolpho Gauthier]

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Posted in People,UFOs | 14 comments

14 Comments so far

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by IQXS UFO, steorfan. steorfan said: Trindade Island case photographer admits hoax http://dlvr.it/3xQNt […]

  2. Cap. Alejandro Franz August 18th, 2010 10:43 pm

    Hello Mr. Mori, you were right since many years ago:

    1979 Article On The Trindade Island Case

    And the recovered portufuese page:

    Congratulations and best regards.

  3. PurrlGurrl August 19th, 2010 3:48 am

    Wow! How did this not come to light sooner, since the photographer admittedly hoaxed other photos? Many UFOlogists list these photos among the cases or strongest evidence. Do you think they deliberately hid this information in order to bolster their views or were they just uninformed?

  4. terry the censor August 20th, 2010 1:16 am

    [I asked these questions at Kevin Randle’s new post about the Trindade photos. Maybe Kentaro has an answer; I notice his links above are to scans of prints]

    There is a lot of disagreement about what the niece actually said to the television producers. An obvious explanation comes to mind, but I won’t speculate until I can find answers to these two questions:

    Has anyone seen the negatives since 1958? If not, does the niece refuse access to them now?

  5. Mori August 20th, 2010 1:30 am

    As far as I know, no one has seen the negatives since 1958. Barauna promptly sent prints to almost anyone who asked, but he said he sold the original negatives to “O Cruzeiro”.

    The niece has never answered if she does or does not have the original negatives, in more than two years of contacts.

  6. Greg Paloma August 23rd, 2010 2:44 pm

    Q1) Is Barauna’s wife still living?
    Q2) If so, does she live with the niece?
    Q3) If not, did she live with the niece?
    Q4) Did other witnesses see the object and describe it’s
    motion and trajectory similar or different from Barauna?
    Q5) Did Barauna see the UFO first or did someone alert him to
    it’s presence?
    Q6) I read that the negatives showing the object were passed
    around to the entire crew. In that case, if not questioned
    properly, could these second hand witnesses have
    erroneuosly affirmed the UFO without having seen it
    themselves? Is this part of the confusion and has this
    aspect been sorted out?

    Q7) What are the names of the other witnesses and have any come
    forward since 1958 confirming the event in written form?


  7. Mori August 23rd, 2010 4:26 pm

    I will answer most of the questions in a work to be published soon!

  8. Marius August 29th, 2010 4:48 am

    Hello, I am a Brazilian living in the US. I was curious about the claims of the debunking this case. I watched the video that you posted on this page, but it has no sound. So I could not really tell if the subtitles were an accurate translation. I found this other Youtube post of the SAME VIDEO that has the original audio:


    In this video, Mr. Almiro is actually describing in Portuguese what he and dozens of Brazilian Navy sailors saw, how shocked he and everybody aboard the ship was and how hard it was to develop the film on board that particular ship, since it had no photo development facilities.

    The subtitles of the video posted in your page have **NO RELATION WHATSOEVER** to what he is saying.

    I saw the “Fantastico” report and in it this woman is saying he faked it all with two spoons. Well the Brazilian Navy produced a report based on testimony of the crew of the ship that witnessed the incident, and in this report they say the photos were analyzed as well and no tricks were found.

    So the situation is that you have this woman who claims to have heard the faked disk story, and on the other hand you have Mr. Almiro himself reporting what he and dozens of other sailors saw, and the navy report. Now you are free in what to believe, but I think I will stick with the version of the facts reported by the the Brazilian Navy.

  9. Mori August 29th, 2010 8:28 am

    The video has audio. The video you posted is another excerpt of the full video interview with Barauna, that has over 40 minutes long. I clearly state it’s an excerpt, and contrary to the video excerpt that you posted, I credit the full video recorded by Marco Petit in 1997. I find it interesting that some people seem unable to get the basic facts right.

    As for the Navy report and the other alleged witnesses, we will publish more evidence in the next few days.

  10. Marius August 29th, 2010 3:17 pm

    Ah, late night posts! I’m sorry, it was late at night and I was watching the video with my Linux box, which did not have the appropriate decoder installed. I watched it with my windows box and the subtitles are indeed correct. I’m looking forward for your examination of the navy reports.

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