Senator-elect Imee Marcos wasn’t surprised over the controversy over the sale of an unfinished painting by National Artist Botong Francisco by Leon Gallery.
Imee said “Camote Diggers”, Francisco’s last painting before he died in 1969 and given as a gift to Imelda a few years later, was not the first valuable piece from Malacanang which surprisingly ended up in private hands after her father, President Ferdinand Marcos, was kicked out of power in 1986.
Imee claimed that among the precious stuff looted from Malacanang and she saw being owned by some of the country’s rich people were the rubies, diamonds, and emeralds of her mother, former First Lady Imelda Marcos.
“Alam ninyo, sa totoo lang, may mga nagnenok kasi. Alam mo it’s not the first na may nawalang painting na binebenta. ‘Yung iba nga binebenta pa sa amin. Ayaw nga naming bilhin kasi nakakanerbiyos ang ganoon,” said Imee in an interview with DZBB’s Arnold Clavio and Ali Sotto.
“May mga alahas na nagsusulputan na suot ng ibang tao. N agugulat kami, ‘yung isang brooch, suot ng socialite. Biro-biro nga ‘di man lang rine-engasate (changed setting), ‘di man lang binago, pinaengaste sa iba. ‘Yun din talaga ang nasa picture ng nanay ko. ‘Yan ang feedback ng aking mga beki. Pambihira talaga.” she added.
The Botong painting was sold for P23.4 million early this month but Leon Gallery decided to void the sale after receiving a letter from the lawyers of Botong’s heirs questioning how a gift to the Marcoses ended up in their lap. To avoid controversy, Leon Gallery said the private owner of the painting decided to donate the masterpiece to a museum.
Imee said she was surprised by the controversy over the Botong painting. “Ang last time kong nakita ‘yan eh sa study room, talagang nakasabit doon kasi gustong gusto n’g parents, ng mother ko. Ang ganda talaga ng pagkapainta kahit hindi tapos. Kaso nga, we never saw it again until makatanggap kami ng sulat ng abogado kung paano daw napunta sa auction,” she said.
“Nirefer ko naman sa auction at mukhang idodonate na lang daw sa museum. Pero sa akin, ok na rin for public viewing, for public enjoyment kung maglalanding a museum. Pero ‘di maiiwasan ang tanong – paano yan nawala sa Malacanang. Dapat nasa Malacanang ‘yan,” she added.
Imee fondly recalled how happy Imelda was when Botong’s widow gave her the painting.
“Yung biyuda dinala niya kasi ‘yung nanay ko, forever patron ni Botong. Fans na fans ng Angono school ang nanay ko. Bili ng bili, tulong ng tulong. Tuwang tuwa naman ang pamilya,” she said.
“Nakahan talaga siya, may place of honor kasi maganda talaga siya.”