Ating Pinas (Our Philippines) is a regular series on this site. It is about anything and everything Filipino; featuring uplifting articles that inspire national pride as well as sobering essays to spur participation towards positive change.
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According to the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), a total of 146 paintings by Picasso, Van Gogh and other masters, which were allegedly bought with stolen funds by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, remain missing.
Marcos distributed his priceless collection of at least 300 artworks to cronies when his regime crumbled in 1986. Only about half have been recovered by Manila, said Andres Bautista, chair of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).
“The Marcoses were art aficionados and they spent millions of dollars buying these paintings,” Bautista said.
The 146 paintings by Picasso, Van Gogh and other masters like Renoir, Rembrandt and Cézanne “could be anywhere,” he added.
The PCGG drew up the list of missing paintings from art gallery receipts and shipment records left behind by the Marcos family, Bautista told Agence France-Presse.
Vilma Bautista, the former personal secretary to Marcos’ widow, Imelda, along with two nephews, was indicted in New York last week over an alleged conspiracy to sell a Monet that had belonged to the first lady.
The Monet, “Le Bassin aux Nymphéas,” and three other paintings seized by US authorities from Bautista were on the Philippines’ missing list, said Andres Bautista, who is not related to the accused.
Vilma Bautista and her nephews allegedly sold the Monet to an art gallery in London for $32 million, according to the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
The PCGG’s Bautista said he had met the New York prosecutors to ask for the return of the four paintings to Manila.
“Now, whether we bring them back here to be exhibited, or we sell them there and remit the proceeds to the national treasury would be up to President Aquino,” he said.
The other artworks from the Marcos collection that had already been recovered by the Philippine government were either sold or displayed in local institutions or museums, according to the PCGG chair.
The PCGG was formed in 1986 to recover Marcos’ embezzled fortune believed to be worth up to $10 billion, after the bloodless Edsa People Power Revolution ended his 20-year rule and forced him into US exile. He died in Hawaii in 1989.
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|Monet’s “L’Église et La Seine à Vétheuil” (1881)|
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