Aquino eyes expert advice on best time to sell Imelda Marcos jewelsBy Gil Cabacungan
MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino III is keen on getting expert advice on whether this is the best time to sell the multi-million dollar jewelry hoard of former First Lady Imelda Marcos to be sure the government will get the best possible price for these sparklers.
In a talk with reporters during the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (Apec) Leaders Summit in Vladivostok, Russia over the weekend, the President maintained that there has been no formal discussions on the proposal of Presidential Commission on Good Government Chairman Andres Bautista to place Mrs. Marcos’ jewels on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museaum in Manila or at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas building where the gems have been kept since 1986.
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, however, has been cool to Bautista’s proposal as he doubted whether the “notoriety” of the owner, as described by Bautista, would be enough to draw in tourists into the country.
“What we want to know is how big is the amount we will get from these? Is this the right time to sell it? Where do you actually sell it? Are these worthwhile pieces? I have no expertise when it comes to jewelry,” said the President.
“Probably, just for my piece of mind, I want to make sure that if we sell it, we will not be humiliated. It is my obligation not to put our country in a precarious position.”
The Imelda jewelry collection is comprised of three sets — the Malacanang collection composed of about 300 sparklers left in Imelda’s bedroom when she and her family bolted out of the country in 1986 during the EDSA People Power revolution; the Honolulu collection with roughly 400 pieces that the Marcoses brought with them to Hawaii but were seized by the US Bureau of Customs upon their entry; and the collection named after Imelda’s Greek operative, Demetriou Roumeliotes, whose attempt to bring out 60 pieces of Imelda’s jewelry, including a 37-carat diamond, out of the country in March 1986 was foiled by local authorities.
Six years ago, the Sotheby’s and Christie’s international auction houses valued the Imelda jewelry collection at P15 billion.
Imelda’s son, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., has reportedly expressed his support for the PCGG’s proposal because his mother had long wanted to show in public her jewels that his family was seeking to regain through pending court cases.