The Smoking Gun has the details from the Bautista trial on how the Marcos Monet found its way to hedge fund founder Alan Howard. Howard bought the work for $43m from Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox, a London dealer who took responsibility for some of the outstanding concerns that had unwound a previous deal with Acquavella which had agreed to pay $35m for the painting once it had been vetted:
[T]he Monet was transported to Acquavella’s East 79th Street gallery for further inspection and discussion. And while Acquavella prepared a purchase and sale agreement, gallery officials expressed their concerns to Bautista’s camp about a 19-year-old certificate granting her authority to sell the valuable painting. The 1991 document purportedly included Imelda Marcos’s notarized signature.
Acquavella pressed for a fresh certificate of authorization, and even offered to travel to the Philippines to get Imelda Marcos to sign an updated document. But after Bautista and her assistants could not produce any additional documentation, the deal collapsed.
The certificate of authority presented by Bautista has been branded as fraudulent by prosecutors, who elicited trial testimony from the notary that they had not, in fact, witnessed Marcos sign the document.
So how did Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox go ahead with the sale when Acquavella had passed?
During the ensuing negotiations, the London gallery–represented by the New York law firm Herrick, Feinstein–raised questions about the painting’s provenance, the validity of the certificate of authority, and Bautista’s standing to sell the Monet. Like Acquavella, the gallery also wanted Marcos to somehow address or update the 1991 document.
Bautista and her associates claimed that Marcos could not be contacted and no further documentation could be obtained. Instead, they offered a “letter of explanation” signed by Bautista addressing the London gallery’s concerns. Five days after the letter was provided to a lawyer for Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox, the Monet was sold. Bautista, Dunne, Stone, Abaya, and Chaiyot Jansen Navalaksana, one of Bautista’s nephews, attended the closing.
So what about the Monet? Will the sale be rescinded or will Alan Howard keep the painting? The Telegraph reported that Howard has already paid $10m to a group of victims with a class-action suit to drop their claim. Before you think Howard will pay any price to keep his painting, he’s suing Hazlitt to recoup some of the cost:
At the same time, a group of almost 10,000 people who say they suffered human rights abuses under the 20-year regime, have been mounting class-action lawsuits to reclaim Marcos assets in the US.
Pre-empting a potential bid to seize his Monet, Mr Howard paid the group $10 million to forfeit any legal claim for ownership of the painting. “He bought it in good faith, but the fact that he bought it in good faith doesn’t protect him,” a source close to Mr Howard told The Daily Telegraph.
Mr Howard, the founder of Brevan Howard Asset Management, now plans to take legal action against Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox, the London gallery and dealership that sold the painting.
The gallery is said to have made about $7.5 million on the sale of the painting …
Billionaire Bought “Hot” Imelda Marcos Monet (The Smoking Gun)
British billionaire pays $10 million to avert legal claim on his Monet painting (Telegraph)