The Pazo de Meiras estate in the northwestern Galicia region, which was used by Franco as a summer residence, had been used for decades by his family who claimed it as their private property.
But in September, a court in the northwestern Galicia region ordered them to turn it over to state ownership, upholding a Spanish government complaint that the sale of the property in 1941 was “fraudulent”.
In a statement, the court said a judge had “handed over the keys of Pazo de Meiras” to the state in line with the ruling “in which it was agreed that the building was public property”.
The move was hailed as a “laudable achievement” by Carmen Calvo, a deputy prime minister in the leftwing government of Pedro Sanchez.
Built between 1893 and 1907, the estate was acquired by a Francoist organisation during the civil war (1936-1939) and later signed over to the victorious dictator, who was born in Galicia and died in 1975.
In 2018, Galicia's regional government declared the 19th-century mansion to be of “historic and cultural value”, ordering the family to open it up to the public. But they fiercely opposed the move, arguing it was private property.
A year later, the government filed a complaint that was upheld by the court, which took issue with the donation of the property in 1938 and subsequent sale in 1941, ruling it “null and void”, since it was transferred to “the head of state and not to Francisco Franco personally”.
It also found that the sale was little more than a “pretence” given that “Franco did not pay anything” for it, ordering his family “to immediately hand over the property”.
An appeal by the family was rejected.
Handing over the property is a new setback for the Franco family who in 2019 failed to stop the dictator's exhumation from a grandiose Catholic mausoleum, with his remains moved to a discreet family plot on the outskirts of Madrid.