"It makes me laugh, even though my lawyer tells me not to laugh." A few months ago, in a conference at a private university, Esperanza Aguirre recounted how she felt every time she received a new piece of paper from a court, and how her lawyer had asked her not to disdain investigations, that you never know. . A few days ago, a new document arrived at the mansion in the center of Madrid where she lives with her husband, Fernando Ramírez de Haro, which makes the former Madrid president laugh but the marriage's lawyers are concerned about something else: the The Provincial Court is going to fully examine the legal case for the sale of a painting by Goya, with which Aguirre and her husband avoided financial ruin in 2012.
The case was apparently closed because the judge instructing the case had decided to file it without processing the challenge against her filed by the complainant's lawyers, Íñigo Ramírez de Haro, Fernando's brother and Aguirre's brother-in-law. But a higher instance now reverses that decision. The magistrates of the Hearing must decide if there are reasons to remove the judge from the case and examine the evidence in case they reopen the case, an exclusive of elDiario.es.
The procedure instructed by the Court of Instruction number 26 of Madrid arose from the complaint of Íñigo Ramírez de Haro, who maintains that his brother appropriated a Goya painting that belonged to the family and sold it on his own without sharing the profits. According to the lawsuit, he used it to pay off the large debts that threatened to ruin the Ramírez de Haro-Aguirre marriage. The lifeline of the former Madrid president and her husband, married to a community property regime, was a portrait of Valentín Belvís de Moncada y Pizarro, ancestor of the aristocratic political family of Esperanza Aguirre. The painting was inherited within the Ramírez de Haro family without anyone knowing that Goya had painted it.
The painting should have been part of the legacy of Ignacio Ramírez de Haro –father of Fernando and Íñigo– to his children, but it was not. Fernando Ramírez de Haro went to a notary in 2012 where he signed a statement in which he assured that his father had exclusively donated that work to him. He had done it, he said, verbally, for which there is no document that justifies it. His father couldn't deny the version; he had died a year and a half earlier.
Íñigo, Fernando's brother and Aguirre's brother-in-law, denounced in court that this alleged donation was false, a trick to win the Goya – and fifty more antiques – to later sell it. And so it was: a month later, the Sotheby's auction company confirmed that the author of the painting was Francisco de Goya and valued it at around seven million euros. A few months later, businessman Juan Miguel Villar Mir paid 5,115,600 euros for him. At that time his company had planned a huge urban development operation in the center of Madrid for which he needed permits from the Community, chaired by Aguirre, to demolish six buildings. After buying the painting he obtained that permission.
The Provincial Court has now demanded from the judge who instructed the case all the documentation to examine it carefully. The magistrate has been asked, among other documents contributed to the summary, a recording made in April 2019 by B. Ramírez de Haro, one of the sisters of Fernando and Íñigo. That recording is a voice note that B. recorded with one of her grandchildren to send to another, both children of Aguirre. His intention was to tell them one of those stories that in aristocratic families, such as that of the Ramírez de Haro, is passed from generation to generation.
The story tries to convey a moment of family unity in which the Ramírez de Haro played their cards and stayed together to avoid the economic bankruptcy of one of their members. Fernando, Aguirre's husband, had had problems managing family businesses and was accumulating debts with Banco Santander. It was Aguirre who sounded the alarm to her in-laws: she told them about her financial problems and warned them of "a serious risk of going to jail if she didn't remedy the situation." The then president of Madrid warned of an extra risk, and that is that being married in community property, the ruin of her husband was going to drag her down.
The family, then, set up a "crisis cabinet" – as B. Ramírez de Haro called it – and a solution was soon found in the portrait of Valentín Belvís. The appraisal is commissioned to Sotheby's and the company gives the good news to the family: it is a portrait painted by Francisco de Goya. "And Don Valentín goes from being worth a few hundred thousand euros, in the best of cases, to being worth more than six million," summarizes B. to his two nephews in the recording.
The problem that arose then is that the portrait was not the property of Aguirre's husband. "For your father to be the owner of the painting, we had to invent a donation that never happened," admits B. Ramírez de Haro in that private recording that he made for his grandchildren and that the judges of the Provincial Court of Madrid will now listen to. On the recommendation of the family's lawyer and with the help of a notary, a document was drawn up stating that the father of the family had made the verbal donation to Fernando, and a false date was put on it to give it the appearance of veracity: on May 30, 2006, the day of San Fernando. B. Ramírez de Haro even tells his grandchildren that one of his brothers signed with a limp, because for him it was "a real problem of conscience to sign a lie."
During the investigation, neither the judge nor the Prosecutor gave importance to that recording. The magistrate, in fact, left it in the pile of unimportant documents and at first she did not send it to the Provincial Court, which has now been claimed along with the rest of the case documentation.
Now, that magistrate is awaiting what will happen with her recusal. A judge of the Provincial Court will prepare a file on her proceeding in the investigation of this case, and a section of that court will decide if she should be removed so that another judge handles the case. Íñigo Ramírez de Haro's lawyers argued, for example, that he had torpedoed the questioning of the Sotheby's expert who appraised the painting.
In addition to how events unfold in that branch of the case, there is another aspect that forces us to keep the case open. At the beginning of January, the Prosecutor's Office rejected that the investigation be definitively closed. His argument is that parallel to the criminal case there is a civil one, which dYou must determine whether or not there was "simulation" in the donation of the painting, so the inheritance to Fernando Ramírez de Haro would be affected. In fact, the Public Ministry recalled on that occasion that it had not been proven that the reported events had not taken place, so they had to wait.