Malaga art boom draws ‘pop-up Pompidou’

The southern Spanish city of Malaga is set to be the home of the first ever Pompidou museum outside of France, a further boost to the city's growing reputation as a hub for the arts.

Malaga art boom draws 'pop-up Pompidou'
Paris's iconic Pompidou Centre hopes that its Spanish satellite will raise the museum's international profile and provide funds to offset budget cuts. Photo: Saitor/Saitor

The custom 'Cube' construction, designed as the first-ever satellite museum of Paris's famous Pompidou Centre, will open in March 2015.

Displaying significant pieces including works by the city's most famous artist, Picasso, 'El Cubo', will be erected on Quay no. 1 of Malaga's harbour and remain in place for at least five years.

The local government of Picasso's native city has agreed to contribute €2.1 million (€2.75 million) to the project being jointly run with France's national museum of art.

It cements Malaga's growing reputation as a hub for culture, evidenced by the presence of over 30 museums, including the major Picasso Museum, which opened in 2003.

The city is also set to welcome a branch of Saint Petersburg's State Russian Museum in 2015.

Malaga's mayor, Francisco de la Torre Prados, described El Cubo's location in a statement as "an excellent entry and crossing point for the many tourists visiting the historical centre."

According to art industry journal The Art Newspaper, the first 93 permanent pieces to travel to Malaga from Pariswill include 'Ghost,' by Kader Attia, Max Ernst’s 1961 'The Imbecile', Francis Bacon’s 1971 Self-portrait,  a piece by Catalan artist Joan Miró, and 'The Flowered Hat', a 1940 piece by Picasso.

As well as 2,000 square metres of display spaces for permanent exhibitions and 362 square metres for rotating temporary exhibitions, El Cubo will also feature a 128-seat auditorium plus 'Studio 13/16', an area dedicated to teenagers.

"Through its mediation work with audiences, the Centre Pompidou fosters wide attendance and primarily addresses those who are not naturally drawn to visit museums," said the Pompidou in a press statement.

Three companies – Heineken, Unicaja and Italcementi – have agreed to sponsor El Cubo to offset costs to the city hall.

Local daily La Opinion de Malaga reported that El Cubo is expected to generate 400 new jobs and generate annual revenues of over €18.5 million thanks to an anticipated 200,000 visitors a year.

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Spanish billionaire banking boss sees jail term doubled over smuggled Picasso

A Spanish court on Tuesday doubled the jail term handed to a former top banker for smuggling a 26-million-euro Picasso painting out of the country onboard a yacht.

Spanish billionaire banking boss sees jail term doubled over smuggled Picasso
Head of a Young Woman by Pablo Picasso Photo: AFP

Former Bankinter boss Jaime Botin, who is 83, was found guilty last month with a Madrid court sentencing him to 18 months in prison and a 52.4-million-euro fine ($58.4 million).

But in a rare turnaround two weeks later, the judge raised the sentence to three years and a 91.7-million-euro fine following what she said was an “error in the imposition of the penalty”, court documents released on Tuesday showed.   

Under the initial ruling, Botin — who also served as a top executive at Santander Bank — had not been expected to spend time behind bars as first-time offenders are usually spared jail for sentences of under two years if convicted of a non-violent crime.   

It was not immediately clear whether Botin would now be jailed, given his advanced age.

Entitled “Head of a Young Girl”, the work was painted by Picasso in Catalonia in 1906 during his pre-Cubist phase. It was purchased by Botin in London in 1977 and brought back to Spain.

Since 2012, Botin, whose family are founder members of the Santander banking group, had been trying to obtain authorisation to export the painting in order to auction it at Christie's in London.

However, the culture ministry refused on grounds there was “no similar work on Spanish territory” from the same period in Picasso's life, with its decision confirmed by Spain's National Court in May 2015, which declared it “unexportable” due to its “cultural interest”.

But barely three months later, the painting was found by French customs officers on board a yacht docked at a harbour on the island of Corsica, who found documents attesting to its value and seized it, saying it had been packaged up to be sent to Switzerland.

They also found documentation stating the painting was not to leave Spain.    

At the time, Botin's lawyers said he was transporting it for storage in a vault in Geneva but the court found him guilty of “smuggling cultural goods” for removing the painting “from national territory without a permit”.

Botin's lawyers had argued against the export ban, noting the painting was acquired in Britain and was on board a British-flagged vessel when seized.    

The painting, whose ownership has now been transferred to the Spanish state, is currently stored at the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid, which houses Picasso's large anti-war masterpiece “Guernica”.

READ MORE: Spanish banker gets jail term for trying to smuggle Picasso masterpiece out of Spain on yacht