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Marcos' ill-gotten gems to go on the block

SEIZED TREASURES: One of three jewellery collections owned by Mrs Marcos - which includes pieces like this tiara inlaid with diamonds and South Sea pearls - was ruled by a Philippine court to have been ill-gotten. The ruling has potentially paved the way for an auction worth millions of dollars.


    Jan 15, 2014

    Marcos' ill-gotten gems to go on the block


    A JEWELLERY collection owned by former first lady Imelda Marcos was "ill-gotten", a Philippine court has ruled, potentially paving the way for an auction of millions of dollars' worth of seized treasures.

    The anti-graft Sandiganbayan court decided on Monday that the Malacanang Collection, the smallest of three confiscated from the Marcos estate and worth some US$150,000 (S$190,000), was rightfully owned by the government.

    The collections include a 60-piece jewellery set featuring a 150-carat Burmese ruby.

    An assessment made by Christie's in 1991 put the value of the three collections at up to US$8.5 million, though, more than two decades on, it is likely to be higher.

    The other two sets are already in government hands, but the ruling is significant because previous attempts to auction off the entire haul have been derailed by legal issues relating to the Malacanang pieces.

    Officials said the court ruling on its forfeiture meant that an auction could now proceed.

    The government has said it is still tracking more than 140 paintings by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh and other masters bought with stolen funds by the Marcoses.

    On Monday, a United States judge sentenced a former secretary to Mrs Marcos to up to six years in jail for conspiring to sell a Monet water-lily painting that went missing in 1995.

    Vilma Bautista, 75, failed to report US$28 million she obtained from selling the painting to a London gallery, which then resold it to a hedge-fund manager in Switzerland.

    The painting has not been recovered.