Lorenzo Sanz arrested over art exports

MADRID - Former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz was detained on Wednesday in connection with an investigation into the illegal export of artworks, Spanish police confirmed on Thursday.

Sanz, who led Real from 1995-2000 when they twice won the European Cup, is accused by police of illegally taking artworks out of the country and was released pending a court hearing, a spokeswoman told Reuters.

Spanish media reported on Wednesday, citing unidentified sources close to the investigation, that Sanz used the artworks, valued at 7.5 million euros, as part of his failed attempt to buy Italian Serie A club Parma in 2005.

"It's an operation I conducted three years ago," the 66-year-old Sanz told Spanish radio on Wednesday.

"I bought some paintings and afterwards some people told me we could have an auction in Italy," he added.

"I have no idea if you have to get permission to sell art outside Spain. It was an unwitting mistake. I didn't know if you had to ask permission. What I do know is that I won't be buying any more paintings."