Spanish ex-banker gets 18 months in prison for smuggling Picasso painting out of Spain

A Spanish former banker will spend 18 months in prison after a court found him guilty on Thursday of attempting to smuggle a Picasso painting out of Spain.

Jaime Botín, the former head of Spain’s Bankinter, was also fined more than 53 million euros — the equivalent of $58.5 million.

The seized painting 'Head of a young woman' by famous Spanish painter Picasso, at the Customs offices in Calvi. 

The seized painting 'Head of a young woman' by famous Spanish painter Picasso, at the Customs offices in Calvi.  (French Customs Office/Anadolu Agency)

A team of Spanish police experts flew to the French island of Corsica in 2015 to retrieve Picasso's 1906 masterpiece "Head of a Young Woman," which is valued at $26 million. The work is deemed a national artistic treasure.

They said the oil painting, which comes from the Cubist master's "pink period" and features a woman with long black hair, was seized when the boat's captain was unable to produce proper documents.

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On the boat, authorities found a document in Spanish confirming that the work was of "cultural interest" and was banned from leaving Spain, Picasso's homeland, without permission.

Corsican authorities said that they had been tipped off about an attempted smuggling of the prized painting from Spain by boat.

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The painting is now in the ownership of the Spanish state.

Botín’s verdict can be appealed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.