French Customs Office shows the seized painting 'Head of a Young Woman'
Madrid - AFP
A Picasso painting worth more than 25 million euros will be transferred to a Madrid museum on Tuesday, police said, after it was seized from a yacht off the French island of Corsica.
Painted in 1906, "Head of a Young Woman" is considered a national treasure in Pablo Picasso's native Spain and had been barred from leaving the country.
It was seized from the yacht on July 31 by customs agents who accused the painting's owner -- 79-year-old Jaime Botin, a well-known Spanish banker whose family founded the Santander banking group -- of trying to illegally export it to Switzerland.
Spanish police officers specialised in national heritage protection flew to Corsica to retrieve the painting, a police spokesman said, adding that it will be taken to Madrid's Reina Sofia Museum, which houses Picasso's large anti-war masterpiece "Guernica".
"The painting will be stored in a warehouse of the museum until we know more about its destiny," a museum spokesman said.
Botin filed an export request for the painting in 2012 but the bid was rejected by the culture ministry, who said it was the only work of its period on Spanish territory.
In May, a Spanish court sided with the authorities and declared the work of art "unexportable" on the grounds that it was of "cultural interest".
It rejected the arguments of Botin's lawyers, who said that the work should not be considered on Spanish territory because it was on a vessel flying a British flag.