MANILA, Philippines – The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) lauded the conviction of a former secretary of former First Lady Imelda Marcos, Vilma Bautista, for illegally conspiring to possess and sell art acquired by the Marcoses and hiding the proceeds from New York tax authorities.
PCGG Chairman Andres Bautista congratulated the NY District Attorney's office and commended them for their efforts.
“The Commission is gratified that the people of New York has seen justice done today. The Commission provided key testimonial and documentary evidence for the trial, knowing how important this was to the Filipino people. We will now be working to recover the proceeds and assets which were confiscated from Ms. Bautista and which we assert to be owned by the Republic,” Bautista said.
A member of the PCGG was called as the first prosecution witness in the month-long trial.
The PCGG was contacted by the NYDA after reports of attempts by the defendants and their associates to sell paintings known to be missing and believed to be ill-gotten wealth.
New York authorities were able to seize three paintings from Bautista and her relatives, particularly Claude Monet's L'Eglise at la Siene a Veuthevil; Albert Marquet's Le Cyprès de Djenan Sidi Saïd; and Alfred Sisley's Langland Bay.
These paintings are among those listed in PCGG’s “missing paintings” list, and have been recorded with Art Loss Register, the world’s largest private database of lost and stolen art.
Bautista was found guilty on criminal tax fraud in the first degree, conspiracy in the fourth degree, and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.
Bautista acted as Imelda Marcos' New York-based secretary while assigned to the Philippine mission to the United Nations from the early 1970s through 1986.
She is expected to be sentenced at a later date.