Vilma Bautista, 75, a one-time secretary to the powerful wife
of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was on Monday
sentenced to six years in a New York prison for a scheme to sell
art that once belonged to the former first lady.
Among the pieces that Bautista managed to sell was "Le Bassin
aux Nympheas" by Monet, from his famed water-lily series, that
netted $32 million.
That one can't be recovered but the Philippines is determined to
get back three unsold paintings that Bautista had in her
possession: another Monet, "L'Eglise et La Seine a Vetheuil,"
Alfred Sisley's "Langland Bay" and Albert Marquet's "Le Cypres
de Djenan Sidi Said".
"We want the three paintings back," Andres Bautista chairman of
the Presidential Commission on Good Government, told reporters
"We will recover them. They were acquired with state funds so
they belong to the Filipino people," he said.
Andres Bautista is not related to Vilma Bautista.
Andres Bautista said the government would file a civil case in
New York to recover the paintings. He did not give an estimate
of their value.
Bautista headed an agency tasked in 1986 with recovering about
$10 billion of ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and their
cronies. He said about 150 works of art were being sought.
"This will take time; it may take a lifetime," he
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Vilma Bautista was convicted in November of conspiracy and tax fraud
charges related to the sale or attempted sale of four museum-quality
paintings acquired by Marcos during the two decades that her husband
was president of the Philippines.
The art disappeared around 1986, when Marcos was ousted in a popular
uprising. He died three years later in Hawaii.
Bautista sold Monet's "Le Bassin aux Nympheas" for $32 million to a
Imelda Marcos, 84, has been charged with civil and criminal crimes,
but never been jailed despite evidence of massive wealth accumulated
during her husband's 1965-1986 rule, most famously in the form of
her huge collection of designer shoes.
She is a congresswoman and has denied that her family's wealth was
(Editing by Robert Birsel)
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