Sotheby's appraises Imelda Marcos' rare pink diamond

Reuters

Posted at Nov 27 2015 08:46 PM | Updated as of Nov 28 2015 01:59 AM

Sotheby's appraises Imelda Marcos' rare pink diamond 1
A Presidential Commission on Good Government official shows a pink diamond of the confiscated jewellery collection of former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos during the appraisal by Sotheby's inside the Central Bank headquarters in Manila on November 27, 2015. Photo by Erik De Castro, Reuters

A rare barrel-shaped pink diamond was among the items in Imelda Marcos's jewelry collection appraised by Sotheby's on Friday in Manila.

A jewellery specialist from Sotheby's, Brett O'Connor, said the pieces, made of gem stones like diamonds, rubies and emeralds, were of high quality and good manufacture. Some appeared to be custom-made, while others were from a jeweller's stock, he said.

Manila may decide to auction the collections after the two leading auction houses -- Christie's and Sotheby's -- appraise three sets of jewellery confiscated from the Marcoses almost three decades ago.

"I think it bodes very favourably. It's a very wide and varied collection. So there's no reason to believe that it wouldn't do well at auction," O'Connor said, while refusing to disclose the recent valuation of the collections.

In 1991, the jewellery collections were valued at $6-8 million. O'Connor said some of the valuations may have increased or decreased based on fashion trends, colour and price of diamonds.

The collection appraised on Friday was seized in Hawaii, where the Marcos family was exiled.

Among the jewels was an pink diamond 24mm (15/16 inch) in diameter.

"Pink diamonds are always rare, rarer than white diamonds. The rarest is red, and then blue and green, and then pink, and then yellow, and then white. Yes, it's a rare thing, and it's a very large size, and it's a lovely old stone," O'Connor said.

Other items included a Cartier tiara, and full necklace-ring-earrings sets encrusted with precious stones like rubies, sapphires and emeralds.

The government tried to auction the jewellery in 2005, but the former beauty queen contested the move, claiming ownership of two of the collections -- one found in the presidential palace after the family's hasty departure in 1986 and the one confiscated in Hawaii.

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Marcos, an elected member of Congress and best known for leaving behind more than 1,200 pairs of shoes when her family fled in 1986, has vowed to recover the family's seized assets. The government also confiscated a collection of paintings including Monets and a Picasso and is hunting for 200 missing art works.

Proceeds from a possible auction could go to human rights victims claiming compensation who filed cases against abuse under the Marcos regime, the Presidential Commission on Good Government said.

"I guess in a way it can be some sort of justice. Of course, it can never compensate what has happened to them (human rights victims). But one way or another, after 30 years, slowly, we're getting back what was taken from us."

Imelda's husband, Ferdinand, was president for nearly two decades, before he was ousted in an army-backed uprising in 1986. The dictator, who died in exile in 1989, was accused of amassing more than $10 billion while in office. The family denies their wealth was ill-gotten.

The government allowed the press to see and film some of the 750 pieces of the three collections, which were kept in a vault at the central bank.

Christie's and Sotheby's were invited by the Philippine government, and carried out the appraisal free of charge.