Spanish customs officers have seized a Picasso sketch, believed to be worth over 450,000 Euros from a passenger who had arrived at Ibiza airport without declaring the artwork, according to a statement made by the Spanish tax authorities this week.
The 1966 sketch called “Trois Personnages”, was found by officers in the suitcase of a man who arrived from Zurich. The man claimed that the artwork was a copy and presented the inspectors with a handwritten receipt for 1,500 Swiss francs – being the sum he claimed he had paid for the piece..
However, on searching the suitcase further the officers found an additional receipt – this time from a Zurich art gallery for 450,000 Swiss francs (454,000 euros) marked as a sale document for the piece, attributed to Pablo Picasso called “Trois personnages”.
According to art experts, the sketch is indeed a work by the Spanish painter and “the price charged by the gallery is in line with the market price,” the statement said.
This first assessment will have to be confirmed by a “more exhaustive” analysis using “advanced techniques”, it added.
The passenger faces possible charges of smuggling for failing to declare an object of value when he entered Spain.
Spanish customs had acted on a tip off from the Swiss authorities who had suspected the man was an art smuggler.
Picasso is considered one of the most influential artists of the last century. He was born in Malaga in 1881 but left to live most of his life in France where he died in 1973.