This story about Jaime Botin trying to sneak his Picasso off to Switzerland despite the Spanish government having refused the work an export license is curious more because it reveals a mis-conception about the global transfer of art works and the assumption that valuable art is easily moved about the world without unsuspecting customs officers being able to figure it out.
Obviously, here’s a case—one among many in recent years—where the authorities were quite capable of spotting a valuable work of art:
A Picasso worth €25m (£17.5m/US$27.4 million) and considered a cultural treasure by Spanish authorities who had barred it from being exported has been seized from a boat docked at Corsica, according to French authorities.
An attempt to export the painting, Head of a Young Woman, to Switzerland on Thursday “drew the attention of French officials”, the country’s customs authority said in a statement, with customs agents on the French island boarding the vessel the following day.
The ship’s captain could only present two documents regarding the work of art, the statement said – one of which was a May 2015 Spanish court judgement labelling the painting a work of art and ordering that it not be taken out of the country.