A SPANISH billionaire who smuggled a priceless Picasso artwork out of Spain has had his sentence doubled.

Ex-banker Jaime Botin was caught with the Malaga artist’s Head of a Young Woman (1906), which has been valued at over €26 million.

But the 83-year-old former Bankinter Chairman has now been told that he may now be sent down for his cultural crime.

He was originally slapped with an 18-month sentence, which would have likely seen him not serve any time.

Jaime Botin
SMUGGLER: Ex-banker Jaime Botin has been convicted after trying to get his Picasso out of the country

In Spain it is often the case that first-time non-violent offenders do not have to enter prison.

Botin’s original fine of €52 million has also been raised to €92 million, by Judge Elena Raquel Gonzalez Bayon.

Botin’s crime was flagged up during a customs search in 2015 on the French island of Corsica.

Officers discovered he was heading to Switzerland with the Picasso.

Picasso Cabeza De Mujer Joven
PRICELESS: Pablo Picasso’s Cabeza de mujer joven

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.

Picasso completed Head of a Young Woman in his pre-Cubist phase, with the painting snapped up by Botin in London in 1977 from Christie’s in London.

The prestigious auction house allowed Spain’s Ministry of Culture to seize the artwork ‘given its obvious historical artistic interest and be older than 100 years’.

Botin’s case is currently being heard at the Provincial Court of Madrid, where he and his team may now launch an appeal against his increased sentence.

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