Sunday, July 6, 2014

Behind the Scenes at Roumeloites shoot

I was given this Exclusive assignment by Commissioner Ramon Diaz in 1988 and an independent photographer to witness and document this jewelry collection for the world to see. Here are some behind the scenes at Bangco Sentral during the shoot of the jewels of Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines. A very tedious but amazing and historical 3 days.

The jewelry and other items all came out of trunks or suitcases. Many were in boxes and many were in zip lock bags numbered to match the Bureau of Customs list. There were women from Malacañan who were in charge of taking the pieces out, 1 photographer from PCGG and 2 VP appraisers from Christie's auction house, Russel Fogarty,  who founded the firm of Kazanjian & Fogarty, Inc. in 1991 to buy and sell important jewels, gemstones and designer creations on behalf of private clients worldwide, and Francois Curiel who is now the President of Christie's Asia.

The women would take out each numbered piece on the list in order, check them off the list, and then hand them to the appraisers. I was there with my ex-husband, Tony Pollard who took the behind the scenes shots. We were not allowed to touch the pieces at all until the appraisers were done measuring them. Only then could I photograph them.  If we didn't like the way they were set out, we had to ask one of the ladies from Malacañan to move it for us; just in case we were magicians and knew how to make things disappear!

It was really a tedious job waiting around for every piece to be matched and then appraised or listed by Christie's VP's. After three days, having shot the best of the lot, I gave up.

Some behind the scenes were photographed by Tony Pollard.

A an article abut this online at Rogue Magazine:

A large grey pearl surrounded by clear diamonds. And dangling below,
a 5 karat canary diamond framed by clear white diamonds

Tools of the trade. Jewelers loop and calipers. 16 mm pearl earring in the
That's me with the camera waiting, and waiting and waiting for them to finish with the jewels so I could finally shoot them. The appraisers, who were both VP's;  with red hair is Russel Fogarty, who founded the firm of Kazanjian & Fogarty, Inc. in 1991 to buy and sell important jewels, gemstones and designer creations on behalf of private clients worldwide, and the one far right is François Curiel, who is now president of Christie's Asia.

A beautiful exotic diamond necklace with ruby embellishments.
An emerald compact powder case. The emerald is 50 carats.

Measuring a blue sapphire and diamond earring.
Measuring barrel-shaped yellow diamond earring. The barrel diamond was 10 cts. and the heart-shaped at the clasp is 5cts.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Where are Imelda's jewels now?

THIS JUST IN: Nov. 26, 2015

PCGG declares collections intact, according to appraisers.

Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images
UPDATE: Oct. 26, 2015

This collection, the Hawaiian as well as the Malacañang collection are now being re-appraised. Here is a recent article on a new and rare find from the Hawaiian collection. Some of the pieces I photographed in 1986 are coming out in the more recent articles. Good to know they are still there.

It has been 26 years since I first took the photos of Imelda's jewels for PCGG in 1988. Still, there has been no resolution. Not only that, when they do show the jewels, I haven't seen any of the Remouliotes collection in as many years. So where are they now?

When I first took the photos in 1986, I Time and Life both wanted to publish the shots, but at that time, Imelda vehemently denied there were hers. Since then, she has sued the government to get them back. I wonder what will become of them, or what has become of them.

I recently read an article claiming that the collection was worth 8 million, including the two other collections. I don't know how this could be because this collection alone must be worth at least that much in today's market. One bracelet from Van Clef and Arpel's had a price tag of 1 million USD still attached to it.

This necklace and the yellow barrel diamonds (photo shown at bottom of page) are the only two pieces I have actually seen a photograph of Imelda wearing.

This was item 27-B on the Bureau of Customs list itemizing this collection
This is Imelda wearing the Buccelatti necklace and the yellow diamond earring which I also photographed.
This is the page of BOC list which the appraisers from Christie's auction house and myself worked from. The circled and checked pieces are my markings so that I could correlate them to the images later when I archived them so they would match up.

Piece #27B on BOC list which the appraisers and I worked from. It is described as 1 pc. yellow gold choker necklace. with one center yellow fancy cut dangling diamond approx. 15 cts, 2 small yellow diamonds approx 16 cts 2pcs. smaller yellow diamon approx 12 cts 2pcs, 4 cts 84 pcs rose cut diamonds (smaller) approx. .29 cts ea, 24 pcs rose cut diamonds ear shaped approx 18 cts, 10 pcs. round diamonds, Buccellati, Italy 18K
The jewelry was stored in trunks which contained the items in this collection.
This was a grueling photo shoot, it took place over 3 days and there were still things to be itemized. Most were not of the same value as the major pieces so I bowed out of the assignment, since I felt I had the shot the best of the lot.

Before I could handle them, I had to wait for the Malacañan staff to remove each piece from the trunk and check it against the custom's list. The item was then handed to the Christies's appraisers, of which at that time, there were two. After they looked at each piece under a jewelers loop, and measured each stone with a caliper, that is the only time I could photograph them. I could not touch the pieces at all, if I didn't like the way they were put on the table, I had to ask one of the Malacañan staff to position it for me.
Malacañan staff taking out the Buccelatti necklace and comparing it to the BOC list.

These are the yellow diamond earrings that Imelda Marcos is wearing the in the photograph above. Item 2B on the Bureau of Customs list.  The heart shaped yellow diamonds are 5 cts. each, and the barrel diamonds are 10 cts. each.

In 2000 I wrote a formal letter to PCGG requesting information on the  whereabouts of the entire collection.. They in turn sent an inquiry to the office of the Vice President, and Sec. Renato C. Corona addressed the issues and wrote back to PCGG Commissioner at the time, Jorge V Sarmiento. They sent me a stamped copy.
I have run into Imelda Marcos at various parties when in Manila, and she herself is wondering about them. She always asks if I know where they are, and my answer is always the same. I have no idea. I just took the pictures, and that was 26 years, and many lifetimes since for me. Yet, I do wish I knew what became of them.
I published a table top book of the jewels seen in this blog called "Thoroughly Imeldific", just for home and some friends. I gave her a copy, and she signed a copy for me to keep. I wonder if she still has it.
Here is an article about the 3 jewelry collections of Imelda.

In that article it says the government will ultimately auction them off. I didn't think it took 28 years to decide on something like this.

In this article it says the entire 3 collections is worth 6 million USD!