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Aide to Former Philippines First Lady Charged in Art Conspiracy

NY County District Attorney's Office(NEW YORK) -- Art and international politics collided after three people were charged in connection with the sale of works that belonged to the former first lady of the Philippines.

When Ferdinand Marcos was president of the Philippines his wife Imelda acquired a vast collection of artwork.  When the Marcoses fled after a popular uprising in 1986 a number of paintings disappeared.  

Several, including one from Claude Monet's "Water Lilies" series, ended up in the possession of Vilma Bautista, 74, who worked in the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in New York.  Now, Bautista and two others are accused of trafficking in stolen art and failing to report proceeds from its sale on their tax returns.

“The integrity of the international art market must be protected,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance. “These defendants are charged with trafficking in stolen art and committing significant tax fraud, denying the state millions of dollars in revenue. This indictment sheds light on what happened to major works of art missing for more than 25 years.”

The "Water Lilies" piece sold in 2010 for $32 million.

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