November 21, 2014
NEW YORK (AP) - A former aide to Imelda Marcos is on trial in a New York art-scheme case that involves a $32 million Monet painting and the Philippine government's efforts to reclaim items from the former first lady and her husband.
Vilma Bautista's conspiracy trial opened Wednesday. She is accused of illicitly selling one of Monet's "water lilies" paintings and trying to sell other artworks that prosecutors say disappeared when Ferdinand Marcos was ousted in 1986.
Defense lawyer Susan Hoffinger says Bautista had authority to sell the Monet on Imelda Marcos' behalf. Hoffinger says Bautista is caught up in a larger dispute that belongs in civil courts.
Philippine officials have worked for years to reclaim valuables they say the Marcoses acquired by looting the country's treasury. The couple denied their wealth was ill-gotten.
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