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PICASSO

France returns seized Picasso painting to Spain

A €25 million Pablo Picasso painting, described as a “national treasure” in Spain was back in Spanish hands on Tuesday, after French customs officers had seized it from a boat in Corsica.

France returns seized Picasso painting to Spain
Pablo Picasso's "Head of a Young Woman" is now back in Spanish hands. Photo: AFP

The Picasso painting “Head of a Young Woman” is in the possession of a Spanish delegation after a French court ordered it to be returned to Madrid.

French customs officials had seized the painting from a boat on the island of Corsica during an attempt to export it to Switzerland.

The €25 million ($27.4 million) painting “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.

(French customs officers carefully handling the Picasso painting as it is returned to Spain. Photo: Douane Française)

The painting is owned by Jaime Botín, a well-known Spanish banker whose family was involved in the Santander banking group in 1857.

The 79-year-old, who was formerly the banking giant's vice chairman, was not aboard the vessel, which was owned by the company and flying a British flag, a customs authority spokesman said.

According to the spokesman, the export demand was also not in Botín's name.

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

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MUSEE D'ORSAY

Picasso’s $115-million ‘Young Girl’ to be loaned to Paris museum

Picasso's "Young Girl With Basket of Flowers," recently sold at a New York auction for $115 million, will be loaned to Paris's Musee d'Orsay for a Picasso exhibit opening in September.

Picasso's $115-million 'Young Girl' to be loaned to Paris museum
"Young Girl With Basket of Flowers" by Pablo Picasso on display during a Christie's preview. Photo: AFP

“We're very happy,” a museum spokesperson said Saturday in confirming the loan, first reported in The New York Times.

The painting was purchased at auction Tuesday by the Nahmads, a family of art dealers and collectors that includes Helly Nahmad, owner of a New York gallery, according to two sources quoted by the Times. Nahmad did not respond to an AFP request, through his gallery, for comment.

The Musee d'Orsay's “Picasso: Blue and Rose” exhibit is being organized in collaboration with the Picasso Museum-Paris and will focus on the artist's work from 1900-1906, encompassing his critically important Blue Period and Rose Period. It will run from September 18th to January 6th, 2019.

The exhibit will then move to the Beyeler Foundation near Basel, Switzerland, from February 3rd to May 26th, with a modified set of paintings. It is not clear whether the “Young Girl” will be part of that show.

The painting, from 1905, was part of a major auction by Christie's of the extensive collection of the late US banker David Rockefeller and his wife Peggy.

“Young Girl,” which the American collector Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo had purchased directly from the artist, was sold for the sixth-highest sum ever attained by a painting at auction, expenses and commissions included.

Four paintings by Picasso (1881-1973) have now been sold for more than $100 million each. No other painter has seen more than one piece of art reach that rarefied level.

Rockefeller, who died last year aged 101, was a grandson of oil magnate John D. Rockefeller. “Young Girl” was a centrepiece of his vast trove of artworks.

The Christie's sale brought in a total of $832 million, pulverizing the record for a single collection sale set in 2009, when the works of designer Yves Saint Laurent and his longtime partner Pierre Berge netted $484 million.

READ ALSO: Picasso's French Riviera mansion set to sell for 'bargain' €20 million

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