Marcos Party’s Baggage Valued at $7.7 Million
Deposed Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos and his entourage stuffed more than $7.7 million in cash and valuables into their suitcases when they fled to Hawaii last month, according to a U.S. Customs Service inventory made public Monday.
The Customs Service list shows that the Marcoses and 88 family members and associates took more than 400 items of costly jewelry, including a golden crown and three diamond-studded tiaras; more than 60 sets of pearl necklaces and chokers; a $290,000 Burmese ruby, and a diamond-studded ornamental hair comb worth $44,410. The gems and jewelry were valued at $4 million.
In addition, Marcos and the rest of his party also transported 22 crates containing $1.2 million in Philippine pesos.
The U.S. Customs Service impounded the luggage from a U.S. Air Force cargo plane that followed the Marcos party when they flew from Manila to Hickam Air Force Base near Honolulu on Feb. 26. Although the Marcoses are in seclusion at the base, at least half their party has moved off base or returned to the Philippines.
Manila Files Its Claim
However, the luggage has remained in legal limbo. The new government of President Corazon Aquino quickly filed a claim for the valuables, arguing that Marcos had illegally removed Philippine currency and used stolen funds to purchase the jewelry. On Friday, the Customs Service asked a federal judge in Honolulu to determine who owns the property.
Dennis Murphy, a spokesman for the U.S. Customs Service in Washington, said that customs agents who appraised the jewelry may have been conservative in their estimates. “We generally use wholesale value, not resale value,” he said.
The 23-page inventory was submitted in U.S. District Court by Jovito R. Salonga, head of the Philippine commission investigating Marcos’ wealth. Salonga spent the day giving a deposition in a lawsuit by the Philippine government to recover more than $300 million in real estate allegedly owned by the Marcoses in the New York area.
‘Sapphires, Rubies, Diamonds’
The jewelry, carried in nine suitcases and attache cases, ranged from a $5 Parker pen to a $1,487,415 set comprising “1 bracelet, 1 pair earrings & 1 broach consisting of sapphires, rubies, diamonds,” according to the Customs Service list.