A Madrid court has sentenced the Spanish businessman Jaime Botín, whose family appears on the ARTnews Top 200 Collectors list, to 18 months in jail for smuggling Head of a Young Woman (1906), a painting by Pablo Picasso, out of Spain. According to a report by the Spanish newspaper El País, the work has been seized by the state, and Botín will be required to pay a €52.4 million (about $58.3 million).
Botín, who is the head of Grupo Santander, was first accused of smuggling the $27.4 million work from Spain four years ago, though Botín has maintained that he never intended to sell the piece. The Spanish Ministry of Culture had forbidden export of the painting on account of its historical importance. El País reports that Botín intends to appeal the ruling in provincial court, saying that there are “defects and errors” in the ruling.
Botín has previously said that, when the painting was discovered by authorities on his yacht in Corsica in 2015, Head of a Young Woman was “in transit” to Geneva for storage at the freeport warehouse complex. The businessman bought the artwork in 1977 in London, and his lawyers argued that Spain had no standing to control its movements on account of the limited time it has spent in the country since Botín purchase.
Prosecutors alleged that Botín had attempted to sell the painting at Christie’s in 2012. Those talks were thwarted when Spain’s Board of Qualification, Valuation, and Export of Spanish Historical Heritage Assets classified the work as non-exportable.
Head of a Young Woman, a portrait of a wide-eyed woman, was created during Picasso’s Rose Period.
Claire Selvin – artnews.com