A colorful abstract painting of a naked woman on a bed of tongues excites people in the Philippines. This artwork by Pablo Picasso, taken over eight years ago, has been seen in statues at the home of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ widow.
Critics see it as a family provocation to the residents of the Philippines. They fear that the Marcos clan, who has returned to power, wants to protect their art treasures.
The son of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. “Pong Pong” won the presidential election with a bang on Monday. After his winnings, he visited his mother Imelda, the widow of the former dictator. Television images of that meeting show a Picasso artwork from the “Femme Couchée” series on the wall.
That painting was seized in 2014 by a special government commission (PCGG), which was investigating the Marcos family’s illicit wealth. Then it was transferred to the National Museum. It is unclear whether the artwork on Imelda’s wall is a replica or an original. Although the then-chairman of the commission said the painting was a fake, the photographs are the strength of speculation.
tortured and killed
Marcos was the Philippines’ longest-serving president from 1965 to 1986. He ruled forcefully and was guilty of human rights abuses. Political opponents were arrested, tortured, and killed.
It also looted an estimated $10 billion (9.7 billion euros) from the population. The money was transferred to foreign bank accounts and real estate. For example, $700 million was recovered in Swiss bank accounts.
The Marcus couple bathed in luxury and owned an impressive collection of jewelry, designer clothes, and artwork. Imelda Marcos was famous for her huge collection of shoes, which symbolized the family’s excess and greed. For years, there were rumors that the Marcos family possessed an enormous amount of gold.
A popular uprising in 1986 brought an end to the dictatorship. Marcus resigned and fled to Hawaii. He died there three years later at the age of 72. The widow Imelda returned to the Philippines at the end of 1991.
Since then, PCGG has been trying to recover 200 artworks and other fortunes from Marcos. These include the works of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Picasso. The art collection was valued in 1990 at $5 to $8 million. In addition, the state wanted Imelda’s jewelry to be auctioned off to raise millions of dollars for the state.
Now Marcos Jr. on coming to power, many Filipinos fear the family will put an end to it. An example would be Picasso’s At Home with Imelda.
Robin Carranza, a former PCGG board member, told the British newspaper Watchman It is unclear whether the painting is genuine Picasso. “Mrs. Marcus used to buy fake paintings and lend fake ones to display.”
At the same time, he finds it important that Imelda is showing off the artwork at the moment. “This shows her indifferent attitude toward Filipinos,” Carranza said. “It makes them think again that they have a lot of wealth and that they can show it whenever they want.”
The Marcos family still faces dozens of lawsuits over their looted wealth. Imelda has appealed his 2018 criminal sentence for corruption.
Marcus Jr. has always downplayed or denied the abuses that occurred during his father’s reign. If he were president, he would have the power to appoint the directors of the PCGG, giving him enormous influence over the committee created specifically to restore the family fortune.
His spokesman declined to comment at a press conference on whether the artwork in Marcos’ house was real Picasso.
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