|Court ruling paves way for tainted Marcos jewels auction
A jewelry collection owned by former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos was “ill-gotten,’’ a court in the country has ruled, potentially paving the way for an auction of millions of dollars worth of seized treasures.
(Pictured, a tiara inlaid with diamonds and South Sea Pearls from a collection seized by Manila, as seen September 15, 2005 photo taken at the central bank headquarters).
The anti-graft Sandiganbayan court decided that the Malacanang Collection, the smallest of three confiscated from the Marcos estate and worth some US$150,000, was rightfully owned by the government, AFP reports.
“Partial judgement is hereby rendered declaring the pieces of jewelry, known as the Malacanang Collection, as ill-gotten, and are hereby forfeited in favor of petitioner Republic of the Philippines,'' read the 33-page ruling released today.
It is one of three collections seized from the Marcos estate, including a 60-piece set featuring a 150-carat Burmese ruby.
The other two collections are in government hands, but the ruling is significant because previous attempts to auction off the entire haul have been derailed by legal issues relating to the Malacanang pieces.
Officials said the court ruling on its forfeiture meant that an auction could now proceed.
An assessment made by Christie's in 1991 put the value of three collections at up to US$8.5 million dollars, though more than two decades on it is likely to be substantially higher.
The pieces in the smallest collection were seized from the Malacanang presidential palace after the 1986 “people power'' revolution ended the two-decade regime of American-backed dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
He died in exile after fleeing to Hawaii with his family.
The Philippine government has said it has so far recovered about US$4 billion of an estimated stolen wealth of US$10 billion, but no one from the Marcos family has been convicted.
Monday's judgement could still be appealed.