Court blocks sale of Evita, Peron mementos

Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:03pm EST
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By Brian Hagenbuch

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters Life!) - A local court has blocked attempts by a former private aide to General Juan Peron who wants to sell his collection of items that once belonged to the Argentine postwar leader and his glamorous wife "Evita."

Mario Rotundo hopes to auction items from the multimillion dollar collection to the highest bidders, but the court wants to investigate the authenticity of the mementos.

Past auctions riled historians and government officials who believe the memorabilia from the 1940s-era power couple, whose memory still looms over Argentine politics, should be turned over to the state as part of the country's heritage.

Rotundo agrees but said the government will have to pay.

"The government has to decide whether they want to buy them or not, and if they don't, we're free to continue auctioning them off," said Rotundo, 61.

He said he has over 10,000 items worth nearly $5 million, and he is working to recover several thousand more objects, which he estimated could fetch $20 million.

But the sale of memorabilia, which he said would finance the good works of his Funpaz foundation, is on hold due to the legal dispute.

Evita died of cancer in 1952 and Peron was ousted by a coup three years later. He returned from exile to become president again in 1973 but died a year later.   Continued...

<p>Mario Rotundo, a former private aide to General Juan Peron, speaks during an interview with Reuters at his apartment in Buenos Aires, February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci</p>