May 14, 2021

Jaime Botín, sentenced to 18 months in jail for smuggling his ‘picasso’ | Culture


Jaime Botín loses his mind. And the Picasso The former president of Bankinter has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for a crime of smuggling cultural property for leaving Spain without permission Head of young woman, which Pablo Picasso painted in 1906, valued at 26.2 million euros. The criminal court 27 of Madrid also establishes that, as of now, the table no longer belongs to the banker, but to the State, and imposes a fine of 52.4 million euros on Botín, twice the value of the piece, according to failure. The judgment, against which it is possible to appeal, considers it proven that Head of young woman He left the Spanish territory by order of the former banker, despite the fact that the Ministry of Culture had expressly forbidden it, as it was a unique work, of extraordinary historical value and, therefore, “inexportable.”

Both the prosecutor and the state attorney Four years in jail and a fine of 100 million euros were requested for Botín. They also demanded that the sailboat Adix, on which Botín sent the picasso until Corsica, it will also become part of the Public Administration. The sentence, advanced by The confidential, he rejects it. The banker’s defense, 83, has already confirmed to this newspaper that he will appeal the ruling before the Provincial Court. The end of the story is still to be painted.

Awaiting the final outcome, the case of picasso It does find its first point and apart, after more than seven years. On December 5, 2012, Botín authorized Christie’s Iberica to try to sell his painting at a bid in London. The auction house requested the necessary permits from Culture, as it is “a property belonging to Spanish heritage, given its obvious historical-artistic interest”, according to the prosecutor. But the ministry replied with a refusal. Paloma Esteban, author of the report that supported that decision, summarized during the trial her reasons: “Head of young woman belongs to the Gósol period [el verano que el pintor pasó en ese pueblo en 1906], fundamental for cubism. And there is no museum dedicated to Picasso in Spain, and I would say that in Europe, a canvas of similar characteristics ”.

'Head of a young woman', work by Picasso (1906).


‘Head of a young woman’, work by Picasso (1906).

Loot appealed that do not before the National Court, he lost and then went to the Supreme Court. That ruling is still pending, hence, for the defense of the former bankman, the whole trial is shaking itself: his lawyers consider that, if the very premise of the case is still being questioned in the courts, at least we had to wait for the Supreme resolution. It has not been like this: the judge Elena Raquel González Bayón He has estimated that there were already enough elements to move forward. “Despite being fully aware of the administrative ban, the defendant moved the painting to the schooner Adix [… ] in order to get it out of Spain, “reads the sentence.

Of course, on the last day of the trial, the State Advocacy and the prosecutor had it very clear. For them, the pillars of a smuggling crime concurred: a work that is worth at least 50,000 euros and that integrates Spanish heritage leaves the national territory without authorization. They say that Botín ignored the notice of Culture, took the picture from Valencia to Corsica, aboard the Adix, and had even hired a private flight to send to Switzerland. There, they argue, he planned to sell it. According to this reconstruction, the exbanquero’s project was only frustrated because the French customs authorities located and requisitioned the picasso in 2015. Since then, he awaits his destiny in the warehouses of the Reina Sofía Museum.

Nothing to do with the vision of the defense. Throughout the week that the trial lasted, lawyers Javier Gómez Bermúdez and Rafael Mateu de Ros tried to refute each point of the accusation: first, given the impossibility of exporting it, Booty He suggested that the Government buy the painting, although the economic crisis prevented the operation from taking place. But, and above all, they argue that the work – acquired in London in 1977 – never entered Spain, except on three rare occasions: therefore, it could not leave. They explained that, since January 2013, when their inexportibility was known, Head of young woman it hung inside the Adix, whose flag is British, and traveled where the sailboat was sailing. Switzerland, according to the defense, was simply a safe: the owner feared that some thief would be interested in the painting and I wanted to protect him in Geneva, Waiting to know if I could finally sell it.

Botín has opened another trial, for the alleged fraud to the Treasury of one million euros when registering a plane in Portugal even though its operations center was in Spain. The Prosecutor’s Office, in that case, asks for two years and three months in jail. Booty has already paid the defrauded amount; the accusation and defense even reached an agreement of conformity, with a sentence of nine months in prison, which the banker rejected at the last moment. For your picasso, Botín also tried to achieve a pact: He met in secret with the then Minister of Culture, José Guirao, to propose exposing the painting in exchange for a lesser penalty. There was no agreement either.

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