French authorities seized a Pablo Picasso painting from a yacht belonging to a member of a well-known Spanish banking family that was docked in Corsica.
Picasso’s 1906 “Head of a Young Woman” is a unique painting, the only example in Spain from a pivotal period in the artist’s life, according to the New York Times.
Because of that status, the courts labeled it a “national treasure” that should not be sold outside the country.
Jaime Botín says the painting is simply his personal property. Purchased in 1977 and kept on his yacht, it is valued at around $28.3 million.
After an apparent tip from Spanish authorities, the painting was seized by French customs officials.
The Spanish government contends that Mr. Botín was trying to move the Picasso to Switzerland for sale, in defiance of a court ruling invoking a Spanish law meant to shield such works of art from export.
Botín’s lawyer said in a statement that his client is pressing an appeal to Spain’s Supreme Court, arguing that the painting could not have been exported unlawfully because it was purchased abroad, and its permanent address was aboard the yacht, which is registered in Britain.