My brother is an artful tax dodger, says writer at war over €5m Goya
27 Apr 2021

A feud has erupted within an aristocratic family over allegations that a senior Spanish politician failed to declare a Goya masterpiece so that its sale for millions of euros would avoid tax and official restrictions.

Íñigo Ramírez de Haro, a diplomat and playwright, has lodged a corruption case against his elder brother, Fernando, the 10th Marquess of Villanueva del Duero, and his wife, Esperanza Aguirre, a former senior leader of the conservative Popular Party (PP).

He alleges that the pair are guilty of influence peddling, money laundering, tax fraud and crimes against Spain’s heritage, among other charges. All relate to the sale of the family’s Goya, a portrait of the brothers’ ancestor, Valentín Belvís de Moncada, reportedly sold by the couple in 2012 to cover Fernando Ramírez de Haro’s debts.

The younger brother alleges that the couple failed to declare the work as national heritage. This would have become evident if they had applied for a permit to sell it abroad. Instead they sold it within Spain, according to court documents.

The work, painted between 1795 and 1800, featured in an exhibition of Goya’s portraits in the National Gallery in London in 2015, where it was described as one of the artist’s most sensational.

Court documents state that the brothers had agreed the painting should be sold to avoid the couple’s bankruptcy but that later on they would repay the younger one’s share of the €5 million, according to El Diario, an online newspaper.

However, almost a decade later Íñigo Ramírez de Haro alleged that his elder brother and Aguirre have defrauded him of his share and of his inheritance.

The younger brother has accused the couple of hiding a large part of their wealth from the treasury of the Madrid government, which Aguirre at the time led, including millions of euros in works of art and antiquities.

He also accuses them of having “concocted a plan to appropriate the [Goya] painting through a series of crimes”, alleging that the elder brother had fraudulently claimed their father had verbally bequeathed the painting to him.

By Isambard Wilkinson, The Times, 27 April 2021

Read more at The Times

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