Imelda's secretary found guilty in looted Monet sale

NEW YORK CITY, USA – A one-time secretary to Imelda Marcos was found guilty by a US court on Monday, November 18, for plotting to sell a Monet painting which vanished after the 1986 revolution that saw the former first lady of the Philippines ousted.

Sentencing for Vilma Bautista, 75, will be held at a date that has not yet been announced, officials said.

"Bautista was found guilty of attempting to sell art she had possessed secretly for decades and knew to be stolen, and for selling a looted museum-quality painting for her personal enrichment," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said.

She was one of three people accused of illegally conspiring to possess and sell works of art acquired by Marcos, and keeping proceeds for themselves, the Manhattan district attorney's office said.

They also sought to hide the gains from the US tax authorities.

The Monet was part of Imelda Marcos' hoard of artworks and other luxuries accumulated during the corrupt rule of her husband, President Ferdinand Marcos.

The Philippines government moved to recover the property in the aftermath of the 1986revolution, but much of it vanished.

"A significant amount of artwork and other valuables disappeared from Philippine government property, including from the Philippine Consulate townhouse in Manhattan," the DA's office had said earlier.

Vance said that after waiting 20 years beginning in 2009, Bautista and her two nephews allegedly began trying to sell.

Among the works they sought to cash in on were the Monet water lily, "Le Bassin aux Nympheas," and three other valuable works that the Philippine government was trying to repossess.

They succeeded with the Monet, selling it to a London gallery and dividing the $32 million, with Bautista "keeping the largest share of the money herself," prosecutors said.

Philippine authorities say 146 works of art the Marcos' acquired with public money have not yet been recovered, including works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Renoir, Rembrandt and Cezanne. –