MANILA (AFP) – Philippine authorities on Tuesday showcased necklaces with diamonds the size of marbles and other jewels seized from the family of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in preparation for a possible multi-million-dollar auction.
White-gloved appraisers from Christieâ€™s auction house examined about 600 pieces of jewellery including gold chains covered with sparkling gems, a huge circlet of rubies and a necklace dripping with pink and yellow diamonds at a special vault at the Philippine central bank.
The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), a body created to recover the millions stolen by Marcos and his allies, said that â€œdue to the vast quantity of jewellery to be appraised, it will take at least five daysâ€œ for teams to go over it.
After the appraisal by Christieâ€™s, a team from Sothebyâ€™s will have their turn. Previous appraisals of the jewels in 1988 and 1991 estimated their worth at between five and seven million dollars, but the PCGC said this is no longer current.
â€œThis (appraisal) will significantly open the way to determining a final resolution on the said assets including the possible auction of the same,â€ the PCGG said in a statement, but added it was also open to putting the jewels on display.
It said a final decision required the approval of other agencies, and that Marcosâ€™s widow, flamboyant former first lady Imelda Marcos, and her children, were still disputing the ownership of part of the collection before the Supreme Court.
Imelda Marcosâ€™s lawyer Robert Sison said in a statement that ownership of the jewels was still subject to litigation.
He described the appraisal as a â€œvery obvious political stunt.â€
The long-hidden collection, seized in three batches after Marcos was overthrown in 1986, has been cited by critics as proof of how his family enriched itself while the nation sank deeper into poverty during his 20 years in power.
Imelda Marcos amassed a huge collection of jewels, valuable art works and shoes even as other Marcos relatives and allies gained fortunes during the Marcos years, critics have said.
The PCGG has been charged with recovering this wealth which it dubs â€œill-gotten.â€
But since the late dictator died in exile in 1989, the family has made a political comeback with many members elected to prestigious positions.
The son of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos Junior, is running for vice-president in next yearâ€™s elections, raising fears the family will regain its influence.