Wed. Nov 20th, 2019

The prosecutor confirms the request for four years in jail for smuggling a ‘picasso’ for Jaime Botín | Culture


First, the State Attorney released an avalanche of legal terms. But then, just in case, he translated his certainties into six words: "The law defines it very clearly." For her, Jaime Botín, 83, committed a manual crime. Both the lawyer and the prosecutor believe that the former president of Bankinter must be convicted of smuggling Head of young woman, a picture of Picasso valued at 26.2 million euros, as they reiterated this morning in their conclusions. They accuse the former banker of take out your canvas from Spanish territory Although the Ministry of Culture had declared it "inexportable", hence they confirmed their request for four years in jail and a fine of 100 million euros.

The prosecutor also defends that the work "already belongs" to the State, from the moment that its owner took it to Corsica in 2015, aboard his yacht, where it was finally requisitioned. The defense, however, demands absolution: argues that there was never any export and that picasso just left the borders, if anything, by the way, temporarily. The trial, in the criminal room 27 of Madrid, has been seen for sentencing: one of the lawyers estimated a wait "three to six weeks." Although the lawyers of Botín request the nullity of the judgment, since the prohibition of Culture to its defended one is appealed before the Supreme one.

Meanwhile, the fight is now almost seven years. The first tangle line is on December 5, 2012: Botín commissioned the auction house Christie’s Iberica to sell its Picasso The company asked Culture for permission to include it in a bid, but the ministry denied them. Paloma Esteban, author of the report that supported that rejection, has once again explained in the trial why the Board for the Qualification, Valuation and Export of Spanish Historical Heritage Assets declared the work inexportable: “It belongs to the Gósol period (the summer that the painter happened in that town in 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 ”. Years ago, art historian and curator Eduard Vallès, an expert in Picasso, told this newspaper: “Head of young woman He painted himself in Paris, three months after his trip to Gósol, although he breathes that aroma. There is no doubt, because there is documentation. ”

'Head of a young woman', work painted by Picasso in 1906.


'Head of a young woman', work painted by Picasso in 1906.

In any case, the former banker appealed the decision before the National Court, but lost. And then he went to the Supreme Court, whose decision has not yet arrived and questions the trial for contraband, according to the defense. The accusation, on the other hand, believes that Botin maintained the intention of selling the painting despite everything. So much so that, in 2015, he took it from Valencia to Calvi, in Corsica, aboard the Adix, his sailboat. There, in addition, he had hired a flight to send the work to Switzerland, although he finally canceled it. And the picasso He was intervened by French customs authorities, who returned him to Spain. For now, awaits his destiny in Queen Sofia.

To live up to such a large painting, accusation and defense they deployed another art: that of oratory. On the still white canvas of the verdict, each left the strokes most favorable to his thesis. The State Advocacy and the prosecutor defended that there are the four key elements of the crime of smuggling: a work worth at least 50,000 euros; his departure from the national territory; a good that integrates Spanish heritage – it is enough that "it has an artistic, technical, historical, paleontological interest …", although it has not been declared or even if the State does not know its existence; and lack of authorization. According to the prosecutor, it is essential for any good of “more than 100 years old”.

His argument lasted so long that, for a long time, Botín listened to him with his eyes closed. He only reopened them, suddenly, when his name was heard. “It would not be so exhaustive if so many issues had not been discussed”, The State Attorney was justified.

“The accusation misrepresents the facts,” Javier Gómez Bermúdez replied, in another infinite intervention. So much that his computer could not hold it and it was turned off towards the end. At that time, he had already tried to disassemble the pillars of the case point by point. The defense interprets that smuggling requires the exit of the customs territory of the EU, something that did not occur; In addition, he insists that the painting was purchased in London in 1977, he stepped on Spanish territory three times but spent the last decades aboard the British-flagged Adix.

The lawyer questioned that Culture had so much interest in the work in 2012 but it was not seized, nor officially protected, nor worried about the other "dozen times" that has left Spain these years, inside the sailboat. For Gómez Bermúdez, those trips, navigation to Corsica and even the flight to the free port of Geneva were only transits: "The final destination has always been the ship and its owner's environment." "The picture does not integrate Spanish heritage, because that is pending resolution of the Supreme," he added.

Gómez Bermúdez reiterated so Booty never wanted to sell the work or hide anything. His portrait touched the sanctification: "I have never seen a defendant declare with this sincerity." In the end, the judge asked Botín himself if he wanted to add anything. He said: "I consider myself blameless in terms of any possibility of committing a crime in this case that I never thought I could have such a rating." The audience ended like this, with a canvas full of contrasts and discordant figures. The final brushstroke is up to the judge.

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