A SPANISH billionaire has been fined €52.4 million and handed and 18-month prison sentence after he smuggled a priceless Picasso artwork out of Spain.
Jaime Botin, an ex-banker, was caught with the Malaga artist’s Head of a Young Woman (1906), which has been valued at over €26 million.
The 83-year-old former Bankinter Chairman, whose family helped found Satntander, was caught with the painting on his yacht.
He was convicted after a customs search in 2015 on the French island of Corsica revealed he was heading to Switzerland with the Picasso.
Although he is the painting’s owner, Botin was accused of exporting the work to try and sell it, a breach of a ban on exporting an artwork of cultural significance for Spain.
He strenuously denies the charges and maintains that he was taking to Switzerland for safe keeping.
Prosecutors on the case accused Botin of ordering the captain of his yacht to ‘hide it from authorities’ as it left the port of Valencia.
It is unlikely that he will serve his time due to his age, current health and the law in Spain which usually pardons first-time non-violent offenders sentenced to less than two years.
The painting was deemed a piece of ‘Spanish national importance’ and was given protected status, meaning that only through expressed permission by the London auction house, Christie’s, could it ever be sold.
In light of the court case, the painting has now been transferred to the possession of the National State.
Picasso completed Head of a Young Woman in his pre-Cubist phase, with the painting snapped up by Botin in London in 1977.