NEW YORK — The former personal secretary of former first lady Imelda Marcos has began serving a two-to six-year prison term for selling stolen art works worth tens of millions of dollars and then lying about them in her tax declarations.
Vilma Bautista, 79, surrendered in Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday after she had lost her appeal of the guilty verdict in January 2014, according to a report by the New York Post.
She faced 25 years in jail but the judge reduced her sentence because of her advanced age.
Justice Renee White of the Manhattan court said evidence showed Bautista “stole property from the Philippine government and Imelda Marcos.”
Bautista’s lawyer had argued that she had permission to sell the works on behalf of Imelda but had not been able to turn over the proceeds. The stolen masterpieces were by Claude Monet, Sisley and others.
Bautista sold Monet’s 1899 “Water-Lily Pond” for $32 million to a London gallery in 2010. The gallery then sold the painting for $43 million to British billionaire Alan Howard.
Bautista reported an income of $5,000 in a year she received $28 million. She was ordered to pay $3,557,620.00 in taxes. —INQUIRER.net US Bureau and Inquirer Research