Martin Chilton writes in The Telegraph: ” They didn’t only hoard shoes. Former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda amassed a remarkable art collection, paid for with stolen funds, and many of the masterpieces remain missing.
The Philippine government admitted today that 146 paintings – including works by Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh – have not been recovered.
Marcos distributed his priceless collection of at least 300 artworks to cronies when his regime crumbled in 1986 and Andres Bautista, head of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, today revealed how many were missing. He told AFP: “The Marcoses were art aficionados and they spent millions of dollars buying up these paintings.”
The 146 works, by Van Gogh and other masters including Renoir, Rembrandt and Cezanne, “could be anywhere,” he added. Much of the Marcos’s embezzled fortune remains unaccounted for after a bloodless popular revolt ended his 20-year rule and forced him into US exile. The ex-president died in Hawaii in 1989.
The Philippine government drew up the list of missing paintings from art gallery receipts and shipment records left behind by the Marcos family. Even rough estimates of the worth of the missing paintings would run into hundreds of millions of pounds. Vilma Bautista, the former personal secretary to Marcos’s widow Imelda, and Vilma Bautista’s two nephews were indicted in New York last week over an alleged conspiracy to sell a Monet that had belonged to the first lady.
The Monet, Le Bassin aux Nympheas (see image), and three other paintings seized by US authorities from Bautista were on the Philippines’ missing list, said commissioner Bautista, who is not related to the suspects.
The three suspects sold the Monet to an art gallery in London for $32 million, according to the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
The Philippine commission’s Bautista said he had met the New York prosecutors to ask for the return of the four paintings to Manila. “Now, whether we bring them back here to be exhibited, or we sell them there and remit the proceeds to the national treasury would be up to President Benigno Aquino,” he said. ”
Image: Monet’s Le Bassin aux Nympheas, which depicts the lily pond in the artist’s garden at Giverny Photo: PA