Show me the Monet: Philippines seeks return of Marcos paintings

Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:30am EST
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By Manuel Mogato

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines aims to recover three paintings, including one by French Impressionist Claude Monet, that a former aide of Imelda Marcos has been jailed in the United States for trying to sell.

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 in Manila.

"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.   Continued...

Auction house Christie's employees examine Claude Monet's water-lily painting "Le bassin aux nympheas" in New York May 9, 2008. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid