Hearing on Marcos family ‘looted’ art deferred yet again

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Former First Lady Imelda Marcos pictured amid some of the art and antiques that were allegedly the fruits of plunder by her family

The Philippine anti-graft court has deferred a hearing on the forfeiture of the Marcos family’s multi-million dollar art collection.

The Sandiganbayan rescheduled the hearing, which was due to take place today (Wednesday, March 14) to June 6 due to a pending civil case on Marcos’ wealth before the Supreme Court (SC).

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In a motion for partial summary judgment filed in February 2016, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) asked the Sandiganbayan to forfeit in favour of the government some of the Marcos family’s real estate, company shares, jewellery and artworks.

The artworks sought to be forfeited are 152 paintings with an estimated value of $11.84 million; 27 paintings and sculptures discovered at the sequestered Metropolitan Museum of Manila with an assessed value of $548,445; and 12 paintings by American artist Anna Mary Robertson said to have been bought for $370,000.

The PCGG also asked the Sandiganbayan that former First Lady and now Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Marcos be deemed to have waived her right to contest the forfeiture for failing to file her comment or opposition despite being given the chance to do so.

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However, the SC stopped the proceedings in July 2016 and ordered the anti-graft court to turn over all documents to complete its records of Civil Case No. 0141.

Records of the case consist of 35 volumes containing 17,238 pages of documents, including the original complaint, various pleadings by the parties and rulings of the Sandiganbayan First Division since the original filing of the case on December 17, 1991.

In the estimates of the PCGG, the artworks would now cost $24 million.

In December, we reported that a former secretary to Imelda Marcos surrendered to serve up six years in prison for a multi-million art sale fraud.

Vilma Bautista, aged 79, has been free, pending appeal, since being found guilty in 2013 and sentenced to two to six years in prison. She insisted she was the rightful owner of Claude Monet’s “Le Bassin aux Nympheas,” which she sold for $32 million. However, prosecutors argued that it legally belonged to the Philippine government.

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