Jaime Botín, a prominent art collector and the president of Spanish bank Grupo Santander, won’t go to jail for attempting to smuggle a Pablo Picasso painting out of Spain because he has an “incurable illness,” El País reports. The collector had been expected to spend three years behind bars.
In 2017, Spanish authorities raided Botín’s yacht, where they found Picasso’s Head of a Young Woman (1906), a Rose Period painting. The work had been deemed of such historical importance that the Spanish Ministry of Culture barred it from being exported in 2015, citing its status as a national treasure. The painting, which Botín bought in 1977, is thought to be worth $27.4 million.
While Botín has insisted that the painting was merely in transit to a storage facility in Geneva and that there was no plan to sell the painting, the incident kicked off a legal battle that stretched on for several years. Originally, Botín had been sentenced to 18 months in prison and a €52.4 million ($58.3 million) penalty. Judge Elena Raquel González Bayón amended her original decision after the prosecutor’s office asked her to review it, leading her to increase the fine and jail time. In 2020, a Spanish court decided that Botín had to pay €91.7 million ($101.2 million) in addition to serving a three-year jail sentence.
That decision was overturned on Monday by a criminal court in Madrid. Following a medical evaluation conduced by the forensic doctor attached to the court, it was determined that Botín need not spend time in jail because of his physical state.
Botín comes from a family with a rich history of art collecting. The family, which was included in ARTnews’s 2021 Top Collectors list, founded the Centro Botín in Madrid in 2017. The 33,743-square-foot, Renzo Piano–designed private museum in Santander, Spain, houses the family’s massive collection.