Owner Sentenced for Using Yacht to Smuggle Picasso

17 January 2020

Spanish billionaire and owner of 213-foot S/Y Adix Jaime Botín was found guilty of “smuggling cultural goods.” He was fined €52.4 million ($58 million) and sentenced to 18 months in jail on January 16 for breaking a court order prohibiting the removal of a Pablo Picasso piece “from national territory without a permit,” BBC reports.

Any piece of art more than 100 years old and deemed culturally significant is registered as a national treasure and requires owners to request permission before taking it outside of the country. The Spanish high court said in 2015 that the painting was of “exceptional importance” because it was created in the Catalan village of Gosol when Picasso was still experimenting with cubism, Forbes reports.

Picasso painted Head of a Young Woman in 1906, and Botín purchased it in 1977. The painting was seized from the vessel in Corsica, France, on July 31, 2015, following “an attempt to export to Switzerland,” Boat International says. Prosecutors allege that he hired a private jet to take the painting from Corsica to Switzerland where he intended to sell it.

Valued at €26 million, the painting was kept on Adix but would only be on display whenever Botín was on board. Forbes reports that he told a court hearing in November that he asked the captain to keep the painting safe in a box when he was not aboard the vessel.

He has fought to take the painting out of Spain since 2012 and even has a case still pending in Spain’s supreme court on the issue. Botín’s lawyers tried to appeal the decision, claiming that the painting was kept on board the yacht, which is British-flagged, and was not technically in Spain.

The artwork is now property of the Spanish state and has been given to the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid.

UPDATE: 02/05/2020
The judge who convicted Jaime Botín for smuggling the Picasso piece has published a clarification ruling, Spanish newspaper El País reports. The order issued on January 31 increases his sentence to three years in jail and the fine to €91.7 million ($100.8 million).

It’s reported that the correction to the decision was made after the prosecutor’s office and state advocacy requested a review of the calculations.