Paintings seized from Marcos property

MANILA, September 30, 2014 (AFP) – Philippine authorities said they seized paintings Tuesday from a Manila property of former first lady Imelda Marcos as part of efforts to recover works by Picasso, Gauguin, Miro, Michelangelo and others.

Imelda Marcos. Photo: Brian P. Biller

Imelda Marcos. Photo: Brian P. Biller

The raid came a day after a special court ruled that eight paintings owned by the widow of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos had been acquired with embezzled state funds and must be turned over to the government.

Police and state lawyers raided the Marcos home in Manila’s San Juan district on Tuesday to enforce the court ruling, said Nick Suarez, spokesman for a state body pursuing the Marcoses’ allegedly ill-gotten wealth.

“Paintings were seized, but we have yet to determine which ones or how many,” he said.

The court also ordered authorities to search the other homes and offices of Marcos, 85, an elected member of the House of Representatives.

The court ruling covered Pablo Picasso’s “Femme Couchee VI (Reclining Woman VI)”, Michelangelo’s “Madonna and Child”, and a still life by Paul Gauguin.

The others are a Francisco de Goya portrait of the Marquesa de Santa Cruz, Pierre Bonnard’s “La Baignade Au Grand Temps”, Bernard Buffet’s “Vase of Red Chrysanthemums”, Joan Miro’s “L’Aube”, and one of Camille Pissarro’s “Jardin de Kew” series.

Suarez said he did not have estimates of the current value of the artworks.

Imelda Marcos, a keen art collector, will appeal the court ruling on the eight paintings, said her lawyer Robert Sison.

“The order is highly questionable. We will question that order,” he told AFP.

Sison described the ruling as illegal since the paintings were not included in a forfeiture case that the government had earlier filed against the Marcoses.

The Philippine Supreme Court ruled in the government’s favour on the forfeiture in 2003, a case that included $658 million in Swiss bank deposits.

The government alleges the Marcos family plundered an estimated $10 billion from the nation’s coffers before a military-backed “People’s Power” revolt in 1986 forced them into exile in Hawaii, where the dictator died three years later.

The flamboyant former first lady symbolised the excesses of the Marcos years with her collection of 3,000 shoes and jewellery fit for European royalty.

In all, the government is searching for 150 paintings including works by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Picasso, Monet and Michelangelo that the Marcos family allegedly amassed during their 20-year rule, according to the wealth recovery body’s chief Andres Bautista.

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