MANILA, Philippines?The jewelry collection of Imelda Marcos consists of tiaras, necklaces, watches, earrings, bracelets of rubies, emeralds, jade, gold pieces, diamonds and pearls made by Gucci, Van Cleef and Arpels, Bulgari and Philippe Patek, among other jewelers.
The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) has classified the collection into three?Malacañang, Honolulu and Roumeliotes.
The Malacañang collection, composed of some 300 pieces, was left behind by the Marcos family in the Palace when they fled the country on Feb. 25, 1986.
The Honolulu collection, around 400 pieces, was confiscated by US customs officials upon the arrival of the Marcos family in Hawaii on Feb. 26, 1986.
As indicated in the US customs inventory completed on March 10, 1986, the most expensive item in the Honolulu collection was a ?set of bracelet, earrings and brooch with sapphires, rubies and diamonds? amounting to $1.49 million. (At the time of the US customs inventory, the exchange rate was $1: P25).
In exchange for the dropping of antiracketeering charges filed against her in the United States, Imelda signed a compromise agreement in 1991, and a Honolulu court finally turned over the collection to the Philippine government on Dec. 18, 1992.
The Roumeliotes collection, considered to be the most expensive of the three, was confiscated by airport and Philippine Customs officials on March 9, 1986 from Greek Demetriou Roumeliotes, as he tried to flee the country.
Consisting of 60 pieces, the collection?s most prominent piece is a 37-carat diamond. Cases related to this collection went all the way to the Supreme Court but were decided in favor of the government on May 18, 1994.
The PCGG has possession of the first two collections and they are kept in the vaults of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. The Bureau of Customs has custody of the Roumeliotes collection.
In 2006, the Sotheby?s and Christie?s international auction houses estimated the entire lot (the three collections) to be worth P15 billion.
The government tried several times to sell the jewelry to raise money, but court cases and disputes over the venue prevented the auction.
In 1994, the PCGG tried to sell the jewelry but was unable to work out the terms with international auctioneers, Christie?s of New York and Sotheby?s of London. Another attempt was made in 1996, but it did not materialize.
In 2005, another attempt was made, but Imelda asked a Manila court to issue an injunction against the auction, claiming the jewelry belonged to her, with some pieces being family heirlooms.
In May 2009, the PCGG announced once again its plan to auction off a huge cache of Imelda Marcos jewelry, with PCGG Commissioner Ricardo Abcede noting that there was no legal impediment because Imelda had been unsuccessful in getting the courts to issue a restraining order. Lawrence de Guzman, Inquirer Research