Philippines Launches Online Search for Imelda Marcos’s Missing Masterpieces

Imelda Marcos is implicated again.

Imelda Marcos pictured with a part of her collection in her Manila apartment. Photo: AFP/ Romeo Gacad via newsinfo.inquirer.net

Philippine authorities have appealed to the public to help track down an estimated 200 missing artworks—including paintings by Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, and Rembrandt—which were allegedly owned by former first lady Imelda Marcos, known for her particularly extravagant taste.

The government announced that it will launch a crowd-sourcing website in an attempt to recover the artworks.

According to the Telegraph, it’s the latest attempt of the Presidential Commission on Good Governance—the government organization charged with recovering the Marcos fortune—to find the works.

Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos (centre) ruled the Philippines between 1965 and 1986 Photo: Marvin D. Lynchard via Wikimedia Commons

Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos (centre) ruled the Philippines between 1965 and 1986.
Photo: Marvin D. Lynchard via Wikimedia Commons.

Commission member Andrew de Castro said the website would be ready to launch in the coming weeks and would facilitate the sourcing of information on the missing art.

Last year, police recovered a small number of the paintings in two raids on private properties. However, based on documents seized during the couple’s time in exile, about 200 works are still unaccounted for.

The missing works include Picasso’s Reclining Woman VI, Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child, Francisco de Goya’s Portrait of the Marquesa de Santa Cruz, and a still life by Paul Gauguin.

Francisco de Goya The Marquesa of Santa Cruz as a Muse (early 19th century.) Image: via blogs.artinfo.com.

Francisco de Goya The Marquesa of Santa Cruz as a Muse (early 19th century), was seized in the 2014 raid and then disappeared.
Image: via blogs.artinfo.com.

Marcos—who returned to the Philippines in 1989 after her husband’s death and is a serving member of Congress—has always vehemently denied any wrongdoing. The 86-year-old has always maintained that the paintings were gifts and insisted they weren’t acquired with embezzled state funds. Her political power in the years between 1965-1986 was best summed up by the media description of her as “the other half of the conjugal dictatorship” of president Ferdinand Marcos.

In 2012, Imelda Marcos’s former secretary, Vilma Bautista, was sentenced to six years in prison for conspiring to sell artworks which disappeared in the aftermath of the collapse of the Marcos regime. The paintings included Claude Monet’s Le Bassin aux Nympheas (1919), which she sold to a London gallery for $32 million.

Over the course of the Marcos’s 21-year dictatorship, the family is estimated to have accumulated a fortune in excess of $10 billion.

Marcos became notorious for her lavish spending habits, including a 3,000 pair shoe collection. She has been charged with numerous crimes but has never been convicted.


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