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Marcos victims get $10M settlement for lost painting

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Imelda Marcos

Imelda Marcos

MANILA  (Mabuhay) — More than 9,000 Filipinos who sued the Marcoses for human rights abuses are set to receive a $10 million settlement over artwork owned by Imelda Marcos that was sold to a foreign art collector.

In a press statement, Robert Swift and Rod Domingo, lead counsels for the Filipino victims of human rights abuses, said the settlement derives from litigation in New York City by the victims to recover on their judgments against the Marcoses.

“Immediately after the Marcoses fled to Hawaii in February 1986, more than 200 pieces of artwork purchased by Imelda Marcos disappeared from the Marcoses townhouse in New York. In 2010, the New York District Attorney indicted a former assistant to Imelda Marcos, Vilma Bautista, for the illegal sale of one of the paintings, an impressionist masterpiece by Claude Monet,” the statement read.

Domingo said the New York district attorney also recovered $15 million from the sale as well as three other valuable artworks.

He said class counsel, who obtained a contempt judgment against Imelda Marcos and Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos for $353.6 million, immediately filed suit in New York to recover the paintings and the proceeds.

The current owner of the painting later settled the lawsuit for $10 million since the artwork was purchased in good faith.

“With this settlement, the Class is just starting to recover on its judgment. The Marcoses have hidden many of their assets and prevented the victims from making any significant recovery on their original 1995 judgment of $2 billion,” lawyer Robert Swift said.

“It is poetic justice that the victims are benefitting from a valuable painting that Imelda Marcos purchased and revered. The Marcoses have thumbed their noses at the United States court and Filipino victims of human rights violations ever since the original judgment was entered.”

Swift said the Marcoses have been caught trying to dissipate the Marcos estate’s assets “to re-capitalize their political dynasty in the Philippines.”

“This New York litigation may be the vehicle to discover the totality of the Marcos artwork trove and to recover still more money for the victims,” he said.

Philippine co-counsel Rod C. Domingo, Jr. said “the recovery of $10 million will be welcome news to the victims, most of whom are now aged and poor.”

“The first distribution of $1,000 to each victim in 2011 was greeted joyously. We anticipate a second distribution in early 2014 when perhaps even more money will have been recovered.”

The approval of the settlement is pending before Judge Manuel Real of the Federal Court in Hawaii. (MNS)

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