Sandiganbayan orders return of $24.3-M worth of artwork 'unlawfully acquired' by Marcoses

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 19) — The Sandiganbayan First Division has ruled that relatives of former President Ferdinand Marcos return or identify the location of hundreds of pieces of art which it said was illegally obtained during his term.

Among over 800 pieces of artwork named in the partial summary judgement are works by Cezanne, Degas, Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, and Grandma Moses. The Sandiganbayan said these pieces were "unlawfully acquired" by the Marcoses and their cost "significantly out of proportion" to their salaries.

The 42-page Sandiganyan ruling released Thursday said, "(The petitioner) Republic was able to establish the prima facie presumption that the paintings and artwork, valued at $24,325,500, acquired by the respondent spouses were significantly out of proportion to their aggregate salaries of $304,372.43 as public officials. Aside from the unsubstantiated 'lack of sufficient knowledge' in the answer, respondents failed to present evidence to overturn the presumption that the artwork and paintings were unlawfully acquired. Hence, the forfeiture of said properties in favor of petitioner Republic is warranted."

The court also ordered the respondents and any of their representatives not to dispose of and/or sell off the artwork, and give an accounting of any pieces in their possession or have been sold. It also said they should turn over any artwork "and/or divulge their current location."

The Marcos family has yet to issue a statement on the Sandiganbayan's decision.

The ruling comes just days after the anti-graft court junked a case involving alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses.

In a decision penned by Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Alex Quirol, the court’s fourth division junked a P200-billion forfeiture case against former President Ferdinand Marcos, his widow Imelda Marcos, his children Senator Imee Marcos, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Irene Marcos and Constante Rubio, a close associate of the former president, for lack of sufficient evidence.