June 18, 2021

Jaime Botn, sentenced to 18 months in prison and fine of 52 million for smuggling Picasso – La Provincia


The Criminal Court number 27 of Madrid has condemned the former president of BankinterJaime Botín18 months in jail and a fine of 52.4 million euros for acrime of smuggling cultural propertyfor wanting to take a boatPicasso’s painting ‘Head of a young woman’,to sell it in the UK being “fully aware” that the Government had banned it. The work, valued at 26 million, will pass to theState.

The trial was held last November andProsecutionrequested for Booty four years in jail and a fine of100 million euros. The Advocacy also requested that also the schooner in which the painting was intervened when he was in French waters was to stop at the hands of the State.

In the judgment, the judge discards both extremes, although he considers it proven that the transfer of the work of art, found in Corsica,I didn’t have the mandatory permissionof the Spanish and British authorities and that therefore constitutes a crime of smuggling cultural property. The fine imposed on him is double the appraisal of the painting.

As explained, Botín bought the painting of 1906 in 1977 and had it at his home in Madrid and on a farm in Ciudad Real. At one point, he contacted the auction companyChristie’sto sell the painting in an subasta to be held in February 2013 in London.

The company’s own staff let him know that given the age of the piece, he should have the permission of theculture Ministryto export it and Botín authorized them to process the corresponding licenses stating that the painting was in Madrid and that would be the customs office of exit.

However, in December 2012,Heritage denied authorizationof export, “frustrating its purpose of selling it in said auction house in London” due to the exceptional nature of the painting, as it belongs to the artist’s “Gósol” period andthere is no similar work in Spanish territory.

Botín was notified of the refusal, as he was also warned after the Ministry of Culture issued a ministerial order declaring the inexportibility of the cadre as a precautionary measureuntil the relevant declaration of it as a Property of Cultural Interest.

But the former president of Bankinter, says the sentence, ignored this order of Culture, “despite being fully aware” of it and moved the picture to his schooner docked in Valencia “in order to get him out of Spain, giving instructions to his captain to to hide it from the authorities. ” He, in the words of the judge, “ignored” the ban.

Intercepted in Corsica

In fact, two and a half years later, in June 2015, the Civil Guard Fiscal Service conducted aship inspectionand asked the captain to make a declaration of the goods on board, but he did not include the painting, just as Botín had indicated and is considered proven in the sentence.

It was the French customs services that, knowing that the exbanker was processing an exit permit from Corsica, where the schooner was docked, ordered an inspection of it and lThey spotted the box packed in the commander’s cabin.

When they learned that Botín was forbidden to remove the painting from Spain, they proceeded to seize it, since in addition, the banker was processing plane tickets to travel with the painting to Switzerland.

“There is plenty of discussion: it’s heritage”

A court in Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid) then agreed to insure the painting as a precautionary measure and issued a car requesting its transfer to Spain, which finally took place in August 2015. Picasso’s painting remaineddeposited in the Reina Sofía National Art Center Museumat judicial disposal.

The judge understands that “since the painting is from 1906, there is plenty of discussion about the classification of the good as of cultural interest or its cataloging” and the work in question,“is a clear example of Spanish historical heritage, since it is a contribution of the Spaniards to the world of art. “Therefore, it is convenient that there is a crime of smuggling punishable by up to five years in prison.

However, he points out that although the attitude of Botín “reveals apainfully contrary attitudeto comply with the rules “the fact that he has no criminal record has led him to set as a penalty 18 months in prison and the fine, following the appraisal made by the auction company itself, calculates as a penalty twice the value , 54.2 million.

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