Billionaire to stand trial after allegedly smuggling Picasso painting on his yacht

Jaime Botin
Jaime Botin and Picasso’s “Head of a Young Woman”

On a cruise off the coast of in Corsica, octogenarian billionaire Jaime Botín was stopped by French government officials. His yacht was searched and a very valuable — and protected — painting was found onboard: Picasso’s “Head of a Young Woman.”

That was two years ago, but now the heir to the Santander banking empire has been ordered to stand trial in Spain for attempting to smuggle the protected Picasso painting out of Spanish territory. If found guilty, he could receive a four-year prison sentence and a fine in excess of €100 million, roughly $120 million, according to the Telegraph.

James Botin's yacht Adix
Jaime Botin’s yacht Adix

Botín, the younger brother of the late chairman of Banco Santander, Emilio Botín, is worth an estimated $2.4 billion. The painting, which he acquired in 1977, is valued at $31 million.

Botín has denied that he was smuggling the 1906 painting, and has argued that he was merely transporting it for storage in a vault in Geneva.

However, back in 2012, the government of Spain catalogued the painting as a national treasure in response to a request from the Spanish branch of the Christie’s for the painting to be sold in London. It’s status as a “national treasure” prevents the owner from leaving the country with the item.

Botín claims that taking the painting into international waters does not count as exporting the work.

Anybody know an expert in maritime law?