Entertainment & Arts

Picasso 'national treasure' seized by French customs

Picasso's 'Head of a Young Woman' Image copyright AFP
Image caption The painting is one of Picasso's earlier works

A Picasso painting barred from leaving Spain has been seized by French authorities from a boat docked in Corsica.

Head of a Young Woman (1906) is worth more than £17m (25m euros).

The painting is the property of Jaime Botin, a Spanish banking tycoon.

It was declared a "historical heritage asset of exceptional importance" by the Spanish National Court and refused an export permit.

An attempt to export the painting to Switzerland on Thursday "drew the attention of French officials".

Customs authorities boarded the vessel the following day and found the painting.

The captain could only present two documents regarding the work of art, one of which was, in fact, the May 2015 Spanish Court judgement ordering that it not be taken out of the country.

Mr Botin, 79, whose family founded the Santander banking group, was not on board.

The boat, which sports a British flag, is registered to a British company of which Mr Botin is a shareholder, according to a customs authority spokesperson.

An export request was filed for the painting in December 2012 to move it to London, but was opposed by Spain's culture minister.

French customs officials are now awaiting an official Spanish request to recover the painting.

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