The Spanish billionaire Jaime Botín, heir to one of the most powerful banks in Spain, risks a four-year prison sentence and fine of €100 million. He is accused of having tried to smuggle the painting Head of a Young Girl by Picasso out of the country on his yacht two years ago.

This masterpiece by the Spanish painter, estimated to be worth around €26 million, was seized by French Customs in Corsica in August 2015 (see Picasso Painting Seized on Superyacht in Corsica). For three years prior to this, Botín had tried to get authorisation to remove the painting from Spanish territory, but it was classified as a “national treasure” by the Spanish government in 2012 and not allowed to leave the country.

When it was seized in 2015, the painting was taken to the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid, where it is currently kept and will remain until the end of the inquest. The Spanish newspaper El País reports that it might even remain there for much longer as the prosecutor has invoked article 29 of the Spanish Heritage Law, demanding that ownership of the work be transferred to the state.

Head of a Young Girl was painted during Picasso’s Gósol period. Heralding Cubism, this was a very important phase in the painter’s development. The painting is unique in Spain and would be a very valuable addition to the country’s collections.

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