A glimpse of a possible Picasso in the home of Imelda Marcos filmed during a visit by her son after his presidential election win has set off a flurry of speculation in the Philippines, where the family that once plundered billions is set to return to power.
Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the late dictator, won a landslide victory in Monday’s presidential election, an outcome that has appalled those who survived his father’s regime.
Images released by the family showed Marcos Jr visiting the home of his mother, who had displayed Picasso’s Femme Couche VI (Reclining Woman VI), or a replica, above a sofa.
It is unclear if the painting, one of eight targeted for seizure by anti-corruption authorities in 2014, is genuine, but the unexpected appearance of the nude in blues and greens reclining on an orange and yellow bed has added to the fears that the family would use its now-increased power to brazenly further stifle efforts to recover ill-gotten wealth.
Marcos Sr presided over rife human rights abuses during his 20-year rule as president, including the arrest, torture and killings of his opponent, and used his power to plunder as much as US$10 billion until he was deposed in 1986.
The family squirreled away the funds in overseas bank accounts and real estate, while Imelda Marcos, the dynasty’s matriarch, splashed out on an infamous shoe collection, jewelry, art and designer clothes.
The family and its backers have since rebranded the Marcos name, with disinformation about Marcos Sr’s rule spread widely online.
Ruben Carranza, a former commissioner for the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), which was set up to investigate and recover ill-gotten wealth, said it was unclear if the painting was genuine.
“Mrs Marcos has had a habit of buying fake paintings, as well as lending fake paintings for display,” Carranza said.
However, he said: “The fact that she’s now displaying it just shows not just the duplicity of Mrs Marcos, but that she has to display the duplicity and the extravagance that she thinks she’s displaying for Filipinos to see... That says something even worse.”
“It shows this really, absolutely uncaring attitude for Filipinos. They’ve not only now been led to believe that [the Marcoses] have gold. Now, they’re leading them to believe, again, that they have so much wealth that they can just display it whenever they please,” Carranza said.
For years, there has been speculation online that the Marcoses have huge sums of gold, which was given to Marcos Sr by a wealthy family as payment for acting as their lawyer. According to the story, the gold would be shared with the people if the family regained power.
Marcos Jr has either downplayed or denied the abuses that occurred in the Philippines under his father. As president, he would have the power to appoint the commissioners of the PCGG, granting him huge influence over the body that was set up to recover the family’s ill-gotten wealth.
The PCGG has reportedly retrieved about US$5 billion, while a further US$2.4 billion was bogged down in litigation, and more remains missing, reports have said.
The Picasso was supposed to have been seized by the government in 2014, but former PCGG commissioner Andres Bautista told the Rappler news site that she believed the item was a fake.
“Personally I know that what we seized was a fake. It was a tarpaulin so it’s still with them,” he told the site.
The Marcos family continues to face dozens of court cases over their plundered wealth. Imelda is appealing against a 2018 criminal conviction on seven corruption charges.
Marcos Jr’s spokesperson, Atty Vic Rodriguez, did not respond when asked during a news conference to clarify whether the artwork on display in the Marcos home was genuine.
CALIBRATED RESPONSE: The city-state has learned from its past experiences of dealing with COVID-19 variants to assess the situation and the risks, the transport minister said Singapore will strive to keep its borders open and stay connected to the rest of world even if a new variant of COVID-19 emerges, Singaporean Minister for Transport S. Iswaran said on Wednesday. The city-state has learned from its past experiences of dealing with COVID-19 variants, Iswaran said in an interview with Bloomberg News. When the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 hit, Singapore did not backtrack on its reopening plans, but rather decided to wait and see how things panned out, he said, adding that the response was different versus the Delta outbreak. “We’ve all learned to adapt,” Iswaran said on the sidelines
‘EATING UP SPRING’: Temperatures are 10oC to 15oC above the seasonal average and a city northwest of Madrid experienced its first ‘tropical’ May night on Friday Parts of Spain are experiencing their hottest May since records began, as a mass of hot, dry air blows in from Africa, bringing with it dusty skies and temperatures of more than 40°C. Spain’s state meteorological agency, Aemet, has warned of a weekend heat wave of an “extraordinary intensity,” with temperatures between 10°C and 15°C above the seasonal average and more akin to high summer than mid-May. “The early hours of 21 May have been extraordinarily hot for the time of year across a good part of the center and south of the peninsula,” Aemet said on Saturday. “In many places the
BUSINESS AS USUAL: Thousands of people were forcibly removed from their homes in the dead of night and all mentions of the incident were scrubbed from the Internet Thousands of COVID-19-negative Beijing residents were forcibly relocated to quarantine hotels overnight due to a handful of infections, as the Chinese capital begins to take more extreme control measures resembling virus-hit Shanghai. Beijing has been battling its worst outbreak since the COVID-19 pandemic started. The Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has infected more than 1,300 since late last month, leading city restaurants, schools and tourist attractions to be closed indefinitely. China’s strategy to achieve zero COVID-19 cases includes strict border closures, lengthy quarantines, mass testing and rapid, targeted lockdowns. More than 13,000 residents of the locked-down Nanxinyuan residential compound in southeast Beijing were
‘I’M STUNNED’: The disease is not known to be sexually transmitted, but a large outbreak might reveal previously unknown transmission routes, a virologist said Scientists who have monitored numerous outbreaks of monkeypox in Africa say they are baffled by the disease’s recent spread in Europe and North America. Cases of the smallpox-related disease have previously been seen only among people with links to central and West Africa. However, in the past week, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the US, Sweden, Canada all reported infections, mostly in young men who had not previously traveled to Africa. There are about 80 confirmed cases worldwide and 50 more suspected ones, the WHO said. France, Germany, Belgium and Australia reported their first cases on Friday. “I’m stunned by this. Every day I