A team of Spanish experts have flown to the French island of Corsica to retrieve a masterpiece by Pablo Picasso that was smuggled out of Spain, where it is considered a national treasure.
A spokesman for Spain’s Civil Guard said four police experts in national heritage and several culture ministry officials flew to recover the painting, Head of a Young Woman, which is valued at €25m. The officer said they expect to return with the painting later on Tuesday.
The work is owned by Jaime Botín, whose family was involved in setting up the Santander banking group.
The national court ruled in May that the painting could not be taken out of Spain, backing an earlier decision by the culture ministry. The ruling is under appeal before the supreme court.
On arrival, the painting is to be taken to Madrid’s Reina Sofia Museum, officials said.
Corsican authorities said in a statement on 4 August that they had been tipped off about an attempted smuggling of the prized painting to Switzerland.
They said the oil painting, which comes from the Cubist master’s “pink period” and features a woman with long black hair, was seized on 31 July when the captain was unable to produce a certificate.
On the boat, authorities say, a document was found in Spanish confirming that the work was of cultural interest and was banned from leaving Spain, Picasso’s homeland.