Imelda Marcos’ former aide charged in stolen Monet

In this photo provided by the United States Attorney’s Office in New York shows an an 1881 painting by Impressionist master Claude Monet entitled “L’Eglise et La Seine a Vetheuil.” AP

NEW YORK–The former personal secretary to Imelda Marcos was charged Tuesday in New York in an alleged conspiracy to sell a Monet painting that had belonged to the former first lady.

Vilma Bautista, 74, was one of three people accused of “illegally conspiring to possess and sell valuable works of art acquired by” Imelda Marcos, and “keeping the proceeds for themselves,” the Manhattan district attorney DA’s office said.

They are also accused of seeking to hide the gains from the US tax authorities.

The Monet, which sold for $32 million in 2010, was part of Imelda Marcos’ hoard of artworks and other luxuries accumulated during the rule of her husband Ferdinand Marcos, who was ousted in a popular revolt in 1986. The Philippine government moved to recover the property in the aftermath of the revolution, but much of it vanished.

“A significant amount of artwork and other valuables disappeared from Philippine government property, including from the Philippine Consulate townhouse in Manhattan,” the DA’s office said.

Beginning in 2009, Bautista and her two nephews allegedly began trying to sell the Monet water lily, “Le Bassin aux Nympheas,” and three other valuable works that the Philippines government was trying to repossess.

They succeeded with the Monet, selling it to a London gallery and dividing the $32 million, with Bautista “keeping the largest share of the money herself,” prosecutors said.


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