Banker found guilty of smuggling Picasso painting from Spain

A Spanish court has sentenced a former banker to 18 months in prison after finding him guilty of trying to smuggle a painting by Pablo Picasso out of the country

MADRID -- A Spanish court sentenced a former bank president to 18 months in prison on Thursday after finding him guilty of trying to smuggle a painting by Pablo Picasso that was deemed a national artistic treasure out of the country.

The court also fined ex-Bankinter head Jaime Botín 52.4 million euros (58.5 million dollars) and gave ownership of the painting to the Spanish state .

A team of Spanish police experts flew to the French island of Corsica in 2015 to retrieve Picasso’s masterpiece “Head of a Young Woman,” which is valued at 24 million euros ($26 million).

The work was owned by Botín, the former head of Bankinter and brother of the late Emilio Botín, former head of the powerful Santander banking group.

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

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 a certificate.

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.

The verdict can be appealed.