Investing in Spanish art can prove disastrous. Just ask Jaime Botin.

The uncle of Santander SA Chairman Ana Botin and a member of the dynasty that has run the bank for more than a century was sentenced on Thursday to 18 months in prison and fined 52.4 million euros ($58 million) for smuggling a Pablo Picasso painting out of Spain. He also lost the artwork itself.

Botin, who used to head Spanish lender Bankinter SA, was found guilty of contraband in culturally important goods and ordered to hand over the artist’s “Head of a Young Woman” which is valued at 26 million euros. The painting was seized from Botin’s yacht in Corsica after he took it there in breach of court orders that it should stay in Spain.

Spain has some of the strictest heritage laws in Europe. Any work of art more than 100 years old that is considered culturally important can be deemed a national treasure, forcing owners to obtain a permit before taking it out of the country. Botin was denied such a permit for the Picasso.

Prosecutors argued that Botin was smuggling the painting out of Spain -- instructing the captain of his yacht to lie to law enforcement -- with the objective of selling it at a London auction house. Botin countered that since the painting had been kept on his yacht, it had never been on Spanish territory and that he therefore had the right to take it to Switzerland for safekeeping, local media reported.

Early Work
Picasso painted “Head of a Young Woman” aged 24 in the early 1900s and Botin acquired the piece in 1977, according to U.K. website Artlyst. The work is a rare example of the “Rose” period predating the artist’s shift into the cubist style that produced some of his most famous works, such as the anti-war “Guernica” displayed in Madrid.

Spanish authorities have long suspected Botin of planning to sell the painting. In 2012 he authorized Christie’s auction house to seek an export permit from Madrid to London, Spanish Judge Elena Gonzalez concluded in her ruling. The painting was being billed as one of the top draws at an auction scheduled for February 2013, internal emails at Christie’s presented as evidence in the court showed.

As well as paying a fine that’s double the painting’s value, Botin must also pay court costs. The painting was seized by the state and handed over to the Reina Sofia art museum in Madrid. It’s currently sitting in deposit while authorities decide where to assign it.

Botin has ten days to appeal the sentence.

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.