Much Ado About Thousands Of Shoes

Ricardo Abcede, member of an agency in charge of recovering ill-gotten wealth of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos and his family, talks beside shoes of Imelda Marcos, Sept. 29, 2005.
The Philippine government is considering auctioning off former first lady Imelda Marcos' vast collection of shoes and gowns, an official said Thursday.

International auction houses Christie's, Sotheby's and Bonhams have already expressed interest in holding an auction for her eye-popping jewelry collection, initially estimated to be worth at least $10 million.

One of the houses also suggested the possibility of including the shoes and gowns in the auction, said Ricardo Abcede, of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, which has recovered at least some of the ill-gotten wealth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his family.

Abcede said his agency is looking at whether Imelda's infamous treasures should be put up for sale.

"I believe that with all the publicity generated by Imelda Marcos ... the jewelry collection and other items would be (worth) much, much more than the appraised value," he told reporters.

"There are also eccentric collectors, they might be interested in the shoes or in the gowns," he said.

At the height of her husband's power, Marcos gained notoriety for going on shopping trips to the world's most exclusive boutiques, throwing glitzy parties and ordering lavish beautification projects in the midst of the Philippines' grinding poverty.

When the Marcoses fled the Philippines at the climax of massive street demonstrations dubbed a "people power" revolt, Imelda Marcos left hundreds of gowns and 1,220 pairs of shoes behind at the presidential palace.

The shoe collection, including many expensive foreign brands, astounded the world and became a symbol of her ostentatious lifestyle. Some have been turned over to a shoe museum in suburban Manila.

The presidential palace museum displays Imelda Marcos' five locally made pairs of satin shoes, at least two of her gowns, and her bulletproof vest, parasols, paintings, silverware and period pieces of furniture.

By Teresa Cerojano