menu Home
Spanish News

Crime: The drugs baron and a €2m Old Master

Jack Troughton | June 2, 2021
Francisco de Goya

Experts must decide if painting is authentic

SPANISH police have arrested an international drug trafficker and seized a painting by renowned painter Francisco de Goya.

The high-living suspect was held in Valencia when officers stopped his top of the range Mercedes and discovered 7kg of high-purity cocaine in the car following a National Police surveillance operation.

Searches of his luxury home in the city and outlying villa also found marijuana, ecstasy, three other luxury vehicles including a Harley Davidson motorcycle, a bulletproof vest, and a number of Rolex watches.

They also discovered the picture by Zaragoza artist de Goya and an alleged certificate of authenticity of the work, with a document valuing the painting at €2 million.

And while the alleged drugs baron is now behind bars, art and police experts are now investigating whether the Old Master and the paperwork are genuine – the art market is commonly used by criminals to launder money and fraudsters attempt to cash in. 

In recent years there have been a series of arrests of crooked art dealers and counterfeiters who were used to fake authenticity certificates using antique notary paper and old typewriters.

At the start of 2021, specialist detectives arrested fraudsters trying to sell three fake works by de Goya, El Greco, and Amedeo Modiglian, for €12.5 million.