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Spanish customs seize €450K Picasso sketch at Ibiza airport

Spanish customs agents seized a Picasso sketch worth over €450,000 from a passenger who arrived at Ibiza airport without declaring the artwork, Spain's customs office said Monday.

Spanish customs seize €450K Picasso sketch at Ibiza airport
The customs office said they had singled him out for questioning after receiving a tip from their Swiss counterparts that he was transporting a piece of art in "suspicious" conditions. Photo: Hacienda/Guardia Civil

Agents found the 1966 sketch, dubbed “Trois personnages”, on July 5th in the suitcase of a man who arrived in the holiday island on a flight from Zurich, the office said in a statement.

The passenger said the artwork was a simple copy and presented the agents with a handwritten receipt of 1,500 Swiss francs (1,515 euros) which he said he had paid for the sketch.

But customs agents found another receipt in the bottom of his suitcase from a Zurich art gallery for 450,000 Swiss francs (€454,000) with a reference to a work by Pablo Picasso called “Trois personnages”.

According to a preliminary analysis carried out by 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.

The director of Ibiza’s Museu d’Art Contemporani (MACE) has reported that, “on a preliminary basis”, the alleged Picasso is authentic. Photo: Hacienda/Guardia Civil

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.

The customs office said they had singled him out for questioning after receiving a tip from their Swiss counterparts that he was transporting a piece of art in “suspicious” conditions.

Considered to be one of most famous artists of the 20th century, Picasso spent the bulk of his long life in France, dying there in 1973.

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CRIME

Spanish court approves extradition of UK murder suspect

A court in Spain has approved the extradition of one of Britain's most wanted fugitives, sought for his suspected role in the murder of a teenager in 2015.

Spanish court approves extradition of UK murder suspect

The decision will now go before the country’s cabinet for approval.

Spanish police arrested David Ungi in May in the town of Coin near the southern resort of Marbella on May 5th as he signed up at a gym at a shopping centre.

British police believe Ungi, 30, was involved in the fatal shooting in 2015 in Liverpool of 18-year-old Vinny Waddington.

Ungi, who left Britain less than 24 hours after Waddington was killed, is also wanted by the British authorities for alleged heroin trafficking.

Spanish police carried out the operation to arrest Ungi in cooperation with Britain’s National Crime Agency, which had put Ungi on its most-wanted list.

The Spanish coast has long been a popular bolthole for British criminals fleeing the law, because they can blend easily into the thriving expatriate communities.

There are about 290,000 British nationals officially registered as living in Spain, making them the fourth-largest foreign population in the country, according to national statistics institute INE.

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