Spanish billionaire’s sentence doubled over smuggled Picasso painting

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Jaime Botin in November 2019. Courtesy of Kike Para.

Spanish billionaire Jaime Botín, who was caught trying to smuggle a Picasso painting out of the country, has been resentenced to three years in prison and fined $101m.

The grandson of the founder of Santander SA bank was originally sentenced to 18 months in prison and a $58m fine. But Judge Elena Raquel González reconsidered her decision just weeks after, because “despite being fully aware of the administrative ban, the defendant transferred the painting to the schooner Adix in order to get [it] out of Spain”, she told Robb Report.

The decision surprised Botín’s lawyers. Especially as it was unlikely he would serve any jail time as a first-time offender and octogenarian.

His lawyers said they had never seen anything like this. “In a clarification order, a material error can be corrected (a number, a last name misplaced), but not correct a fault. That would be up to the court to examine the appeal. In addition, we were notified outside the ordinary period,” they told El País.

In 2015, Head of a Young Woman (1906) was seized from Botín’s sailboat off the coast of Corsica, France. Prosecutors previously alleged that the billionaire planned to sell it at auction in London. However, his lawyers argued that it was intended for storage in Geneva. 

The painting was declared a national treasure in Spain that year and has an estimated value of €26m ($29m). It now resides in the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid – where it joined other works by Picasso, including the world-famous Guernica (1937).