A Picasso painting seized by French customs from a cargo boat docked on the Mediterranean island of Corisca on Friday.
The 24 million-euro oil painting 1906 masterpiece, comes from the Cubist master’s “pink period”, features a head of a young woman with long black hair is considered as Spain’s national treasure, French customs said.
They were tipped off about an attempt to smuggle the Picasso painting to Switzerland in a cargo boat, a customs authority said.
The painting “Head of a Young Woman” is owned by 79 year old Jaime Botin, a Spanish billionaire heir, banker and art collector whose family founded the Santander banking group, one of the largest banks in the world in terms of market capitalization that originated in Santander, Cantabria, Spain.
Jaime Botin was not aboard the vessel, which is owned by the Santander bank and flying a British flag, a French customs authority spokesman said.
The export request was also not in Botin’s name, French authorities said.
The captain of the ship only presented two documents regarding the painting, one of which was the declaration labeling it a work of art and ordering that it is banned of leaving the country, French officials said in a statement.
In May, a Spanish court declared the painting was of “cultural interest” and it could not be taken out of the country which is Spain, Picasso’s homeland, reports said.
In December 2012, an export request was filed to move the art work to London was opposed by the Spanish culture minister, according to reports.
France’s customs authorities are now waiting on an official request from Spain to recover the painting.
An inquiry has been ongoing for some time, Spanish police confirmed but no further details given. IMAGE AP/ chicago tribune