Jaime Botín’s Lawyer Claims $27 Million Picasso Painting Wasn’t Illegally Exported
The legal representative of the banker Jaime Botín has sent a letter to the Spanish newspaper El País responding to Botín’s Pablo Picasso painting being seized on a boat in Corsica, despite having been explicitly barred from leaving Spain by the Spanish National Court.
In the letter, the legal representative claims that Head of a Young Woman (1906) “was painted abroad, was bought abroad, and its permanent resident has always been abroad. Therefore, the painting has not been exported, neither legally or illegally.”
Botín bought the painting in London back in 1977, and it has lived on his yacht ever since, according to the New York Times. It is widely thought to be a rare example of Picasso’s Gósol period, named after the village in Catalonia where he lived and painted in the early 1900s.
The artwork is estimated to be worth around €25 million ($27 million), which is, admittedly, far less than the $179 million auction record for the artist, which was achieved at Christie’s New York location this past May.
According to El País, the first export request was presented in 2012 by Christie’s Iberica SL on behalf of the company Euroshipping Charter Company Ltd., linked to Botín.
The Committee for the Assessment, Valuation and Exportation of National Heritage Goods within the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport originally denied the request that same year, citing the work’s enormous cultural value, and the Spanish National Court concurred with the assessment. The request was again denied in May.
But Botín’s legal representative claims that the provisional ban to export the painting lacks grounds, since the painting “was not in Spanish territory when this was ruled, and neither has it been exported.”
The lawyer’s argument is based on the fact that Head of a Young Woman was located on a boat with a British flag, “which makes it foreign territory even when the boat is docked in Spanish ports. The port where the boat is registered and usually docked is London.”
According to the El País report, however, the boat had recently been docking in Valencia, Spain.
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