Sotheby’s appraises Marcos jewels

-- Artist Randalf Dilla polishes his 8 x18.5 feet oil and acrylic painting “Salvage Memories, Salvage Lives” at Hiraya Gallery in Manila, Friday. The masterpiece, which depicts human rights issues during the Martial Law era, will be exhibited in commemoration of its declaration on September 21.(MNS photo)

— Artist Randalf Dilla polishes his 8 x18.5 feet oil and acrylic painting “Salvage Memories, Salvage Lives” at Hiraya Gallery in Manila, Friday. The masterpiece, which depicts human rights issues during the Martial Law era, will be exhibited in commemoration of its declaration on September 21. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — International art auctioneer Sotheby’s on Friday appraised the 760 pieces of the Marcos jewelry collection confiscated by the government, following the appraisal conducted by auction house Christie’s earlier this week.

Conducted at the Bangko Sentra

l ng Pilipinas, the appraisal was arranged by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

“Sotheby’s is expected to finish their appraisal by today,” PCGG Commisioner Andrew A. De Castro told reporters in Pasay City.

Following the release of the results of the appraisal within the next two to three weeks, De Castro said the commission will be meeting with concerned parties to discuss the auction of the jewels.

“We will be talking about the mechanics on how to select the auction house, how to do the exhibit,” he said.

De Castro declined to give further details regarding the next steps, noting that nothing has been finalized yet.

Asked on the possible exhibit, however, he said that “there has been clamor from people to see the jewelry and for transparency on our part as well.”

Three separate collections comprise the Marcos jewels:

– The Malacanang collection seized from the Marcos family upon fleeing the Philippines currently under the custody of the Office of the President
– The Hawaii collection seized by the US Bureau of Customs upon the arrival of the Marcos family in Hawaii in 1986, currently under the custody of the PCGG
– The Roumeliotes collection believed by Demetriou Roumeliotes to have been attempted to be smuggled out of the country by Imelda Marcos, confiscated by the BOC

The appraisal is a significant step to finally assess the collection and determine its current value as it will open the way for determining a final resolution and a possible auction of the assets, PCGG Chairman Richard Amurao earlier said.

Through a memorandum of understanding signed October 21, both the PCGG and the BOC agreed to auction the seized pieces of Marcos jewelry, initially estimated to be worth between $5 to $8 million.

The appraisal conducted by Sotheby’s followed that of fine art auction house Christie’s held from Monday to Wednesday, where its Senior Jewelry Director David Warren took note of the collection’s historical background.

“A lot of jewelry 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,” he said.

The Sandiganbayan Special Division early last year ordered the forfeiture of the jewelry collection in favor of the government, declaring the pieces of jewelry, known as the Malacanang Collection, as ill-gotten.

Bulk of the proceeds from the auction is expected to be given to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and farmers under the coco levy fund.

“We don’t have any control where it goes. We remit to national treasury,” De Castro said.

De Castro declined to give a timeframe for this.

Aside from the jewelry collection, the PCGG is also exerting its efforts to find some 200 high-valued paintings of the Marcos family.

According to De Castro, they will be launching a website by next week which will be focused solely on finding the lost paintings.

The website will contain information on the lost art collection which is said to include some paintings by Picasso.

De Castro noted that in some of the previous interviews of Imelda Marcos, the paintings were visible in the background, which led them to believe that some of these were hidden by the Marcos family.

Several paintings have already been auctioned out in 1991, De Castro said.(MNS)

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