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Martial law victims eyeing proceeds from sale of Imelda Marcos’s Monet painting

September 21, 2013 9:59am
A group of human rights victims is seeking to get their hands on the $32 million proceeds from the sale of a Claude Monet painting that once belonged to Imelda Marcos.
A September 11 motion was filed by petitioner Jose Duran et al against Marcos’ former secretary Vilma Bautista, before the Supreme Court of the State of New York asserting that the “Water Lily Painting” was “fraudulently sold” and that Bautista and seven other respondents profited from the proceeds.
In November 2012, the New York District Attorneys’ Office (NYDA) unsealed a grand jury indictment against Bautista stating that “the owner of the painting, Imelda Marcos, never authorized the sale,” according to court documents. This criminal case is scheduled for trial in October 7, 2013.
Court papers say Duran represents a class of 9,539 victims of torture, summary execution and disappearance during the regime of Ferdinand E. Marcos. Duran, a freelance photographer, gave his address as Woodmere, New York.
Bautista’s co-respondents include Ester Navalaksana, Leonor Hernandez, Gavino Abaya, Juan Abaya, Susan Abaya, Diane Dunne and Barbara Stone. Bautista, Navalaksana, Hernandez and Gavino Abaya were identified in documents as the “selling group,” Dunne and Stone the alleged brokers.
The NYDA indictment disclosed the sale of the painting was finalized on September 14, 2010 to a London gallery for $32.16 million. The petitioners state that the selling group pocketed $26 million, and the brokers split the $4 million in commission.
The crux of the petitioners’ claim stems from the following instances of how Bautista and respondents allegedly engineered the sale of the popular Monet masterpiece:
-They “caused a notary public to falsely certify a Certificate of Authority allegedly signed by Imelda Marcos.”
-They “altered the Certificate of Authority by inserting the name of the Water Lily Painting on the blank space” that tend to mislead potential buyer to believe Bautista has the authority to sell the painting.
Once the painting was sold, not a single cent of the proceeds went to Imelda Marcos. Bautista “kept and distributed” the amounts to fellow respondents, according to court papers.
The petitioners state that they, as judgment creditors of Imelda Marcos, have a “superior and valid claim” to the proceeds from the sale of Marcos’ art work. They are asking the court to issue an order transferring the proceeds into a Class Settlement Fund to be administered by the U.S. Court for the District of Hawaii.
Duran and petitioners have previously received a class-action settlement against the estate of Ferdinand Marcos in 1995 and 2011 as certified by the Hawaii Federal Court. The human rights beneficiaries received $1,000 each from the 2011 settlement in the amount of $353 million).
The petitioners are represented by lawyers Robert Swift of Pennsylvania and Sherry Broder of Hawaii. Their New York attorney is Philip Raible of Rayner Rowe LLP.  — The FilAm
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