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Last week, a one-time employee of Imelda Marcos, the wife of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was sentenced to six years in prison. Vilma Bautista, Marcos’ former secretary, had attempted to sell museum-quality paintings belonging to the Marcoses that were acquired using the couple’s ill-gotten wealth. The works went missing around 1986 when Ferdinand Marcos was removed from power following an uprising.

The Philippines is asking for the return of three unsold paintings -- Claude Monet’s ‘L’Église et la Seine à Vétheuil,’ Alfred Sisley’s ‘Langland Bay,’ and Albert Marquet’s ‘Le Cyprès de Djenan Sidi Said.’ Bautista did manage to sell a different Monet painting, ‘Le Bassin aux Nymphéas,’ from his water-lily series, which fetched $32 million. The Philippine government claims that the paintings were acquired with state funds and that they belong to the Filipino people. The government plans to file a civil case in New York to recover the artworks.

Bautista was convicted in November of conspiracy and tax fraud charges related to the sale or attempted-sale of the paintings. Imelda Marcos has been charged with civil and criminal crimes but has never been jailed. She denies that her wealth was acquired in a dishonest manner.

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Known for her extravagant shoe collection, one-time Philippine first lady, Imelda Marcos, also accrued an admirable art collection during her late husband’s reign. Marcos’ former secretary, Vilma Bautisa, was indicted on Tuesday, November 20th, on charges of conspiracy, tax fraud, and offering a false instrument for filing, all relating to artworks that had previously belonged to Marcos. 74-year-old Bautista acquired a number of important paintings from Marcos and her husband, Ferdinand, after his regime came crashing down in 1986 after a citizen revolt.

The Manhattan District Attorney hit Bautista, a New York resident, with charges that she was conspiring to sell paintings that were the legal property of the Philippine government. The District Attorney’s office claims that Bautista used false paperwork to sell Le Bassin aux Nymphéas (1899) from Claude Monet’s Water Lilies series in September 2010 for $32 million. The other works in Bautista’s possession are Monet’s L’Eglise et La Seine a Vétheuil (1881), Alfred Sisley’s Langland Bay (1887), and Albert Marquet’s Le Cypres de Djenan Sidi Said (1946). The four paintings involved in the suit once hung in a Manhattan town house used by Imelda Marcos and her husband.

Two of Bautista’s nephews were also charged but did not appear in court. Bautista pleaded not guilty and was released on a $175,000 bond.

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