Paloma Botín, daughter of Spanish Santander chairman, and her husband are embroiled in charges of fraudulent purchase of a 6th century BC artefact.
The artefact in question is an Iberian lioness sculpture that dates back to the 6th century BCE. A raid conducted in 2018 by Spanish Historical Heritage Brigade led to the arrest of two art dealers. Further investigation revealed that the dealers were smuggling artworks from other countries, including the ISIS-occupied Libya between 2011-16. Libya and other Middle Eastern countries caught up in internal turmoil, have faced widespread loot of antiquities and cultural artefacts over the years. One of the looted objects was revealed to the sculpture in possession of the Botíns.
As per a Spanish news report, Paloma Botín and her husband Ricardo Gómez-Acebo bought the object from an anonymous art dealer. The sculpture was later seized by the police during a raid on a warehouse of the couple.
Meanwhile, Paloma Botín and her husband have claimed that they bought the artefact in good faith, without any awareness of its provenance. As such, a court has allowed them to appear in a hearing and present their case. Meanwhile, authorities are investigating the purchase documentation provided by Paloma Botín and checking their authenticity.
Also Read: Louvre-Sotheby’s Join Hands For 3-Year Restitution Research Project
Paloma Botín is the daughter of Spanish Santander banking chairman Emilio Botín, considered one of the most influential people in Spain. Her family is also one of the most prominent art collectors in the country. Recently, Jaime Botín (brother of Emilio Botín) was apprehended for trying to smuggle a Picasso out of Spain but avoided jail time.