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Billionaire tries to use his superyacht to smuggle a Picasso: The hidden cost of ‘secret’ sin

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Jaime Botin is worth $1.7 billion. The Spaniard owns a superyacht among his many possessions. He also owns Pablo Picasso’s Head of a Young Woman, a painting estimated to be worth $28.8 million.

Or at least he did.

Botin was sentenced to jail today for using the former to smuggle the latter out of the country.

A 2015 high court ruled that the painting is a “national treasure” owing to the fact that it was created in the Catalan village of Gasol. It prohibited Botin from removing the painting from the country.

Prosecutors alleged that the billionaire used his superyacht to smuggle the painting out of Spain and then hired a private jet to take the art to Switzerland, where he intended to sell it. Spanish authorities were tipped off and raided the superyacht, confiscating the painting and transferring it to a museum in Madrid where it remains today.

Botin will now be forced to pay $60.1 million and serve eighteen months in jail.

The hidden cost of ‘secret’ sin

This story illustrates the fact that sin always leads to consequences.

Scripture is clear: “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). Even those crimes that are never solved by the authorities lead to consequences for their victims and perpetrators. And we will all stand one day before the Lord in judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10).

We can confess our sins and receive forgiveness by God’s grace, of course (1 John 1:9). But the consequences of forgiven sin are not always removed when we are forgiven. Adultery scars a marriage; those who choose abortion never forget their choice.

We can drive a nail into a piece of wood and then remove the nail, but the hole remains.

Even those sins which are forgiven without consequences to others bear consequences in lost rewards for obedience unrendered. We will be rewarded in heaven for the good we do on earth (Matthew 16:27). Time spent in sin is time that was not spent in obedience. And good deeds not done obviously cannot be rewarded.

You’re probably not tempted to use your superyacht to smuggle a Picasso out of your country. But is there another way you’re being tempted to think you will get away with something?

Is there a sin you’ve already committed without repentance?

St. Augustine noted, “The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.”

Do you need to make such a beginning today?