MANILA, Philippines – Philippine authorities on Tuesday, November 24 showcased necklaces with diamonds the size of marbles and other jewels seized from the family of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in preparation for a possible multi-million-dollar auction.
White-gloved appraisers from Christie's auction house examined about 600 pieces of jewelry, including gold chains covered with sparkling gems, a huge circlet of rubies, and a necklace dripping with pink and yellow diamonds at a special vault at the Philippine central bank (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas).
The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), a body created to recover the millions stolen by Marcos and his allies, said that "due to the vast quantity of jewelry to be appraised, it will take at least 5 days," for teams to go over it.
After the appraisal by Christie's, a team from Sotheby's will have their turn. Previous appraisals of the jewels in 1988 and 1991 estimated their worth at between $5 and $7 million, but the PCGC said this is no longer current.
"This (appraisal) will significantly open the way to determining a final resolution on the said assets, including the possible auction of the same," the PCGG said in a statement, but added it was also open to putting the jewels on display.
It said a final decision required the approval of other agencies, and that Marcos's widow, flamboyant former first lady Imelda Marcos, and her children, were still disputing the ownership of part of the collection before the Supreme Court.
In January 2014, the Sandiganbayan forfeited in favor of the Philippine government the third jewelry collection of the former first lady that was seized from her in 1986.
In a 33-page ruling penned by Associate Justice Efren de la Cruz, the court's special first division forfeited what is known as the "Malacañang Jewelry Collection," the last of Mrs Marcos' 3 sets of collection covered by a court case and which have sat in a bank vault for decades.
Two of these – known as Roumeliotes and Hawaii Collections – had already been forfeited in favor of the government. (READ: Imelda's jewelry collection belongs to gov't - court)
Imelda Marcos's lawyer Robert Sison said in a statement that ownership of the jewels was still subject to litigation.
He described the appraisal as a "very obvious political stunt."
The long-hidden collection, seized in 3 batches after Marcos was overthrown in 1986, has been cited by critics as proof of how his family enriched itself while the nation sank deeper into poverty during his 20 years in power.
Imelda Marcos amassed a huge collection of jewels, valuable art works, and shoes even as other Marcos relatives and allies gained fortunes during the Marcos years, critics have said.
The PCGG has been charged with recovering this wealth which it dubs "ill-gotten."
But since the late dictator died in exile in 1989, the family has made a political comeback with many members elected to prestigious positions.
The son of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, is running for vice president in next year's elections, raising fears the family will regain its influence. – Rappler.com