At the end of last April, the Ministry of Culture of the Community of Madrid acknowledged to elDiario.es that the General Directorate of Heritage had no knowledge of the sale of a portrait painted by Goya at the end of the 19th century and that they would launch an investigation to shed light on the case. Culture indicated then that they would study it “carefully” as a result of the investigations published by this newspaper. Half a year later, the Prosecutor’s Office believes that Esperanza Aguirre’s husband was able to evade taxes with the sale of the canvas and the team of Marta Rivera de la Cruz in the Ministry recognizes that “there is nothing new in this regard” and that he has nothing more to comment on .
A Goya for Canalejas, the crossed interests of Esperanza Aguirre and Villar Mir
Since April, the Ministry of Culture of the Community of Madrid has not been able to gather the information on the work to initiate the procedures that end up considering the painting as a relevant cultural asset of the Historical Heritage of the Community of Madrid. Therefore, it continues without protection or control of any kind, wherever it is because the regional administration does not know its location and in all these months it has not determined it either.
The portrait of Valentín Belvís de Moncada y Pizarro lacks protection as an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC) and is not recognized as an Asset of Heritage Interest. Aguirre was president of the Community of Madrid and hid from Patrimonio the sale of the painting for five million euros, thanks to which she avoided the bankruptcy of her family. The businessman Juan Miguel Villar Mir bought the work of the Aragonese painter and months after the acquisition he benefited from the lack of protection of two historic buildings of the Canalejas complex that he was able to destroy to raise the axis of luxury.
A “relevant” painting
From the Community of Madrid they allege that “on many occasions the request for the initiation as BIC comes from the Ministry of Culture, after declaring the work unbearable” and they add that in this case “the work has not been declared unbearable and no one has been received. request of the Ministry “. In those months, the head of Culture was José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes and he confirmed that they had not reacted to the scandal, despite the fact that they did move urgently in the case of an alleged Caravaggio that appeared in an auction house.
The former leader of the PP commissioned Sotheby’s to sell the portrait made between 1795 and 1800 and the auction house determined its price: eight million euros. It was a “relevant” painting. Even Manuela Mena – the institution’s top Goya expert – went to see the painting at Sotheby’s and acknowledged to James Macdonald, the house’s director of antique painting sales, that the Museo Nacional del Prado should acquire it. Macdonald will have to testify before the judge who investigates the distribution of the inheritance and the sale of the painting.
Despite the high value of the portrait, the Community of Madrid continues without asking its owner about its whereabouts and without declaring it an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC) and protecting the portrait of the Marquis of Villanueva del Duero, lieutenant general of the Army of Carlos IV and great of Spain.
In 2012, when Esperanza Aguirre’s husband communicated the sale operation to the Ministry of Culture, Minister José Ignacio Wert (PP) did not claim BIC protection from the Community of Madrid for the president of the Community. Three years later, in 2015, when the new owner –Juan Miguel Villar Mir– requested export permission for the painting to travel to London, to the National Gallery exhibition, the passport was granted and the Qualification Board –organism that determines the permits – no one raises their hand to warn that the box is not declared BIC.
A missing painting
No one has guaranteed the protection of the painting that was blessed by the Prado specialists, recognized in the National Gallery’s exhibition catalog and valued several times by the Rating Board of the Ministry of Culture over three years. The experts consulted by this newspaper do not understand how the regional and state administration is silent and does not act on the case. One of the members of the Rating Board at that time believes that if that painting had been seen in a commission it would have been immediately declared unbearable.
According to the Community of Madrid, its commitment “to the protection of our cultural heritage stems from the firm conviction of its role as a key element for everyone’s access to culture.” Since July, the Governing Council of the Community of Madrid has agreed to declare seven new BICs: the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Valverde, in Fuencarral; the churches of the Asunción de Nuestra Señora de Vuela de las Torres and Robledo de Chavela; the painting ‘View of Madrid with the Royal Palace and the Construction Patio de Armas’, by Antonio Joli; the archaeological site of Piedra Escrita, in the town of Cenicientos; the 12th century parish church of Santo Domingo de Silos, in Prádena del Rincón; and the painting San Jerónimo, attributed to Luis de Morales, El Divino, unpublished until 2015.