A FORMER president of Bank Inter may be tried for attempting to export a Picasso painting valued at €26 million from Spain without authority.
The work known as Cabeza de Mujer Joven (Head of a Young Woman) was purchased by Jaime Botin – part of the family which runs Santander Bank – in 1977 and he kept the painting on his yacht before it was seized by Italian customs officers in Corsica two years ago.
He argues that the painting should not be claimed by Spain as it was painted abroad, was previously owned abroad and was kept abroad on his British registered vessel the Adix, but his argument does seem to contain one flaw.
In 2012, the auction house Christie’s Ibérica applied to the Secretary of State of Culture for permission to export the painting to the UK for sale and this was refused as it was considered to be a unique item which should remain in Spain.
Further applications to remove the painting were rejected but eventually, his yacht was boarded by Italian officers, the painting was seized and returned to Spain and is currently held safely in the Queen Sofia National Art Museum in Madrid.
The captain of the Adix was arrested but the court has now decided that he had no knowledge of the ban but a decision has been made for a prosecutor and lawyers for Botin to meet within 10 days to see whether a compromise situation can be reached before a final decision to prosecute is taken.