Australia Markets open in 8 hrs 58 mins

Billionaire arrested trying to smuggle $42m Picasso out of country

The painting, 'Head of a Young Woman', was considered a national treasure. Images: Getty

A former bank chairman and billionaire has received an $84 million (€52 million) fine after being convicted of smuggling a valuable Picasso artwork out of Spain. 

The $42 million painting, ‘Head of a Young Woman’, had been classed as a national treasure when the ex-chairman of Spanish bank, Bankinter, Jaime Botin attempted to smuggle it out of the country. 

Botin was chairman from 1986 to 2002. 

The 1906 painting was taken from Botin’s yacht during a customs search on the French island Corsica in 2015. 

Spanish authorities accused the 83-year-old of attempting to sell the painting, however Botin claimed he had been moving the painting to Switzerland for safekeeping. 

Botin had asked about selling the painting in 2012, with auction-firm Christie’s in 2012 informing him that he would need permission from Spain for it to go on sale due to its national treasure status. 

But Botin went on to transfer the painting to Spanish port city Valencia, before asking the yacht’s captain to “hide” the painting. 

Madrid’s High Court noted this series of events in its ruling on Thursday. 

In addition to the fine, Botin was handed an 18-month prison term, with the painting also now belonging to Spain. 

National treasure status blocks Cimabue sale

Late last year an elderly French woman discovered a$32 million painting by Italian painter Cimabue. 

However, after selling at auction for four times the expected price, the French government blocked the export of the painting for 30 months by conferring national treasure status upon it. 

The French government will now raise the required funds to buy the painting, ‘Christ Mocked’, back for the country.

Make your money work with Yahoo Finance’s daily newsletter. Sign up here and stay on top of the latest money, property and tech news.