A state judge in New York has temporarily prohibited some of Manhattan's best-known art galleries, antique dealers and jewelers from buying or selling any items believed owned by deposed Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda.
Lawyers for the new Philippine government of Corazon Aquino said yesterday they also are trying to force the New York dealers to turn over their receipts and records of past sales involving the Marcoses and their business associates.
Justice Harold D. Baer of the New York Supreme Court ordered the dealers to appear in court next week to respond both to his order blocking any Marcos-related transactions and to the Aquino government's request for the receipts and records.
The order includes Sotheby's Parke Bernet Inc., the well-known auction house; Cartier jewelers on Fifth Avenue; Christie's auction house, various midtown art galleries, such as the Hammer Galleries, and individual dealers. The names were compiled by examining canceled checks and receipts the Marcoses left behind in the Malacanang Palace when they fled Manila during the popularly backed military revolt in February.
The Aquino government's move against the Marcos' artwork, antiques and jewelry comes on the heels of a federal court victory over the weekend involving $350 million in prime New York real estate. U.S. District Court Judge Pierre N. Leval on Saturday issued a preliminary injunction in the case, meaning he extended indefinitely his earlier, temporary order blocking all transactions involving four Manhattan office towers allegedly owned by Marcos.
Lawyers for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents the Aquino government, said they consider Leval's order a more significant step than the move against the artworks in the long legal battle to retrieve Marcos' "ill-gotten wealth." The Aquino government considers the valuable real estate, more than the art and other items, as the top priority.
But the effort to recover the artwork, jewelry, antiques and silverware marks a symbolic new attack against the most conspicuous and opulent trappings of what has been described as the Marcos' ostentatious lifestyle.
While Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos allegedly hid their ownership of the property through layers of "dummy" corporations, the valuable artwork and antiques were on display at the lavish Manhattan townhouse where the Marcoses used to entertain.
According to court papers filed in the case, that townhouse on East 66th Street contained paintings by Pablo Picasso ("Head of a Woman"), a Vincent Van Gogh watercolor ("Peasant Woman Winding Bobbins") and works by some master impressionists. The court papers say "moving vans were seen at the 66th Street residence before Mr. Marcos fled the Philippines. At that time, many paintings were removed from the premises."
Many of those paintings and other valuables are believed to be stored in warehouses around New York. The court order against the art and antique dealers also includes several moving and storage companies.
Some are also said to be stored at a Southampton, N.Y., mansion allegedly owned by a Marcos relative.
Lawyers yesterday also made available the Reagan administration's list of "personal" documents that the Marcos party brought to Hawaii. Those were the papers that the administration has refused to turn over to Philippine and congressional investigators because they were considered personal and not pertinent to the ongoing probes.
Those papers included divorce papers for Marcos' daughter, medical records on a grandchild, copies of Stag, Hustler, Penthouse and Playboy magazines, and several books, including "The Sensuous Man," "The Corporal Sexecutive," and "Sex and the Over-Fifties."