Jan 23, 2020

Spanish banker receives sentence for an attempt to smuggle his own Picasso out of Spain

Spanish court sentenced former chief banker Jaime Botin to 18 months of prison for attempting to smuggle a Picasso painting.

Jaime Botin, the ex-chairman of Bankinter and a descendant of an influential Spanish banking family, was detained on his yacht near the coast of the French island of Corsica in 2015. The police confiscated “Head of a Young Girl” (1906) by Pablo Picasso, which is estimated to be worth 26 million Euros.

According to Spanish law, export of objects older than 100 years, which can be attributed to the category of national property due to their value as heritage, requires a special permit.

The High Court of Madrid said that Botin had been informed by Christie’s auction house in 2012 that he would need an official permission to sell a century-old painting at a London auction.

At the same time his lawyers argued that Botin was sending it for storage in a vault in Geneva, but the court found him guilty of “smuggling cultural goods” and for removing the painting “from national territory without a permit”.

Apart from 18 months in prison, the court fined Jaime Botin, now 83 years old, for 52.4 million Euros, a decision recently made public.

According to The Times, Botin met with Spanish Minister of Culture José Girao to offer him a deal under which he would transfer the work into state ownership in exchange for a commutation of sentence. So that didn’t work out…

The painting is currently stored at the Reina Sofia modern art museum in Madrid, which also houses Picasso’s large anti-war masterpiece “Guernica”.


Also published on Medium.

.ART Team
.ART Team
members are global citizens with interests ranging from art history to social justice. If we had an office cat we would have called it Basquiat.