Christie’s Auction House and Sotheby’s Auction House are preparing to re-evaluate the Imelda Marcos jewels.
Burmese rubies, Colombian emeralds and a 25-carat pink diamond are being appraised anew after the Philippines government requested an updated valuation.
The government may decide to auction off the gems after the two London auction houses have valued the 750-piece collection.
The jewels were last appraised in 1991, when Christie’s set their value at $6-8 million. Christie’s has already said that the recently discovered 25-carat Indian diamond could easily add $5 million to that figure.
The gems were originally confiscated almost when a family friend tried to sneak them out of the country.
David Warren, director of jewelry at Christie’s said: “Some of the pieces are so important, so magnificent. There’s a very wide variety of pieces, antique to modern, which is again what you would see in a current day royal collection: things that fit every occasion. So if you put me in there to value the jewelry and I had no knowledge of where it came from, I would say this feels like a royal collection.”
Both auction houses now say that the collection has gained strongly in value, not just because of their rarity, but because of who had previously owned them.
Mr Warren said: “Provenance is a big seller. People love the story, they love to know something more about jewelry. A lot of jewelry unfortunately carries no story. So when you have something like this where there’s a big story, a big provenance, it’s a provenance that some people are not going to like, it’s a provenance that some people are going to find interesting, that some people will love.
“It’s a mixture, it’s a mixture of emotions, obviously because of the history behind it. But it’s still provenance, it’s a very big provenance, whatever you feel about that.”
The Philippine government attempted to auction off the jewels in 2005, but Imelda contested the move and claimed ownership over part of the collection.
More recently, the Philippine government seized other assets of the Marcos family, including a collection of paintings which contains works of art by Monet and Picasso.
In all, the Marcos family has been accused of amassing a staggering $10 billion fortune in their time in office – the family has denied that their wealth was ill-gotten.
The 750-piece jewel collection has been kept at the Central Bank of Manila in a vault. Recently the press were allowed to view the gems first hand.
“It shows you the excesses of the Marcos regime. At a time when people were suffering, they were collecting this set of jewelry, so I guess it’s a matter of perspective also. It’s a physical manifestation of all the talk about the problems with the Marcos regime,” Andrew de Castro, commissioner of the state agency tasked with recovering the wealth of the Marcos clan, told reporters.
“So I guess especially for young people now – it’s nice for them to see it, know that it’s real, we’re not making this up. These were from the Marcoses and they’re very expensive,” he added.
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