Imelda Marcos’ gem collection to become a tourist attraction

If plans to showcase the gem and jewellery collection of Imelda Marcos go ahead as planned, they could soon become an attraction for tourists from far and wide.

The sequestered jewels of the former first lady of the Philippines are now lying in the lockers of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the central bank of Philippines. They are divided into three collections with each collection averaging about 300 high-value jewellery pieces. It is not just the value of the jewels or their sheer number that is expected to draw the crowds, but rather the notoriety of Imelda Marcos and everything that has a link to her extravagant lifestyle.

Recently, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) asked the tourism department to exhibit the jewellery before it was sold in a planned auction. The items could be displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, which is situated close to the central bank building. The tourism department has reacted positively to the idea that the gems and jewellery would attract curiosity, despite the fact that the department is already making plans in response to a proposal by international auction house, Sotheby’s, which has expressed an interest in auctioning off the collections.

Rough estimates have put the value of the jewellery at between $10m and $20m, but that price could go up because of the reputation that its owner once enjoyed.

Many of the pieces were seized in transit when the former president of the nation, Ferdinand Marcos, escaped to Honolulu at the height of the Edsa People Power Revolution in 1986. His wife, Imelda, had taken them with her and US customs authorities seized them. However, a large proportion of the highly priced jewels were left behind when the couple fled in haste.

In December 1965, when Ferdinand E. Marcos became the 10th President of the Philippines, Imelda became the country’s first lady. They were in power until 1986.