Imelda Marcos' Jewels Up For Bids

Former first lady Imelda Marcos talks on a mobile phone as she meets reporters in Laoag, Ilocos Norte province, northern Philippines, Monday, Sept. 12, 2005.
Representatives of Christie's auction house on Thursday began appraising jewelry seized from the widow of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos for auction in Europe as early as November.

The government has firmed up earlier plans to sell Imelda Marcos' jewelry collection, initially estimated to be worth at least $10 million, said Ricardo Abcede, a member of a government commission recovering the Marcos family's allegedly ill-gotten wealth.

Imelda Marcos earlier said she would ask a court to stop the auction, but had not filed a court petition by the time two Christie's gem experts arrived Thursday at the Philippines' Central Bank, where the jewels have been kept in a vault since they were seized following massive street protests that toppled Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

Abcede, a member of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, said it might take two days to complete the inspection and appraisal of the collection, which includes a set of a diamond-encrusted bracelet, earrings and brooch believed to be worth about $1.48 million.

He said he was confident that the courts would throw out any petition by Marcos to stop the sale of the jewelry, and asked her not to take legal action.

"The government needs money to put into the treasury," he said, adding that the proceeds would go to a land reform program to benefit the poor.

But he said the jewelry could still fall into Marcos' hands, because the government cannot ask an auction house to bar her or her representatives from buying it back.

Abcede also showed reporters a diamond-ringed 150.01-carat ruby pendant bigger than his thumb.