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Picasso hidden in Superyacht Cabin

What would Pablo Picasso have thought?  A painting he completed when he was just 24, in 1906, tucked away and hidden from view in the cabin of a 212-foot 3-mast classic superyacht "Adix".  

That was until it was seized by the Guardia Civil off Corsica's coast nearly five years ago.  Jaime Botin, spanish billionaire, art collector and heir to Spain's largest bank, Santander, received a fine of €52m  ($58 million) and an 18 month prison sentence this month, for attempting to smuggle this Picasso painting "Head of a Young Woman" out of Spain.

Although Botin is recorded to have purchased the painting in 1977, Spanish heritage laws are really strict and clearly state that any piece over 100 years old, and deemed by the state to be a national treasure because it's considered of cultural and heritage importance must be authorised with a permit before it can be exported, so Botin should have secured a permit if he wanted to take it out of the country.  By all accounts he did request the permit, and on a number of occasions, but requests were denied.

Convicted by a Madrid court last week for attempting to smuggle the painting, Botin claims he was simply moving "Head of a Young Woman" to Switzerland for safekeeping. It's been reported however, that he was attempting to smuggle the painting out of Spain in the hope that he could sell it at a London Auction House.   Originally due to go on sale at Christie’s London in Feb 2013, when Spanish Culture Minister put a stop to the work being exported, claiming it a national treasure.  

Apparently advising his Captain to move the painting from Madrid to the 64.85m superyacht Adix, then docked in Valencia and keep it hidden. Authorities inspected the yacht in June 2015 while she was still docked and went through the supplied inventory of artwork onboard, which didn't include “Head of a Young Woman”.  Adix then left for Corsica, with Botin requesting a permit for transportation.  French customs along with Spanish authorities, boarded and searched the yacht, uncovering the painting, wrapped in packaging in the captain’s cabin.

Although Botin’s lawyer advised that because the artwork was onboard the yacht, flying the British flag meant it was never in Spanish territory, in fact technically, it “makes it foreign territory even when the boat is docked in Spanish port.”  However, the courts dismissed the arguments. 

The painting is currently being kept in the custody of the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid, with ownership now transferred to Spain.

83-year-old Botin, great grandson of the founder of Santander, Spain’s largest bank, was released on Jan 16th with 10 days to appeal the sentence, however his age and the fact it’s his first offence may mean he doesn’t serve the full sentence, he may even receive a lesser sentence in return for donating the work to the nation.

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