The former secretary of Imelda Marcos’s was indicted in a New York City court room yesterday accused of ‘conspiring to possess and sell valuable works of art’. These were items Ms Marcos had acquired while her husband was in power as president of the Philippines.
The authorities are particularly interested in a painting of ‘water lilies’ by Monet which was sold to a London dealer in 2010, for $32 million / £20 million. The Monet painting titled, Le Bassin Aux Nymphéas (1899), was purchased by a well known London gallery, in September of that year. Mrs Marcos’ secretary Vilma Bautista 74 kept the bulk of the proceeds but shared some with her nephews, Chaiyot Jansen Navalaksana, 37, and Pongsak Navalaksana, 40. Other paintings in Bautista’s possession include Monet’s L’Eglise et La Seine a Vetheuil (1881), Alfred Sisley’s Langland Bay (1887) and Albert Marquet’s Le Cypres de Djenan Sidi Said (1946).
Imelda Marcos was a compulsive collector who acquired a vast accumulation of art and antiques both in the Philippines and New York. She from fled from Manila to New York when her husband, Ferdinand Marcos was overthrown. The US granted her political asylum, although much of her valuable property was seized. The new government has sought for the last 20 years, recovery of state owned goods, including her famous shoe collection which consisted of thousands of pairs of designer shoes.
The priceless masterpieces disappeared over 25 years ago and the whereabouts of many of the treasures remains shrouded in mystery, although it is known that the New York townhouse used by Ms Marcos was emptied in 1985, by her employees.
ArtLyst has been told that In 2008 Christie’s sold Monet’s “Le Bassin Aux Nymphéas”, a similar painting and another in the series, while a standing-room-only crowd of dealers, collectors and art lovers watched the gavel go down at $80.4 million.