Berkelium (Bk) has been predicted to be the only transplutonium element able to exhibit both +III and +IV oxidation states in solution, but evidence of a stable oxidized Bk chelate has so far remained elusive. Here we describe the stabilization of the heaviest 4+ ion of the periodic table, under mild aqueous conditions, using a siderophore derivative. The resulting Bk(IV) complex exhibits luminescence via sensitization through an intramolecular antenna effect. This neutral Bk(IV) coordination compound is not sequestered by the protein siderocalin—a mammalian metal transporter—in contrast to the negatively charged species obtained with neighbouring trivalent actinides americium, curium and californium (Cf). The corresponding Cf(III)-ligand-protein ternary adduct was characterized by X-ray diffraction analysis. Combined with theoretical predictions, these data add significant insight to the field of transplutonium chemistry, and may lead to innovative Bk separation and purification processes.