In 2019, the Sandiganbayan, the Philippines’ graft and corruption court, found that the Marcos family had illegally acquired some 160 pieces of art, valued at millions of dollars, and ordered them to be surrendered to the government. One piece that was never recovered was Pablo Picasso’s Reclining Woman VI, which “disappeared” from former first lady Imelda Marcos’ apartment but seemingly resurfaced recently after her son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. seemed to emerge the winner of the May 9 presidential election.
Although it is not clear whether the painting that appeared in those new pictures was the original Picasso (those defending the former first lady have said that it was a reproduction – which, in all fairness, would not be out of the ordinary for Imelda), the controversy inspired Jadie Pasaylo, a visual artist, to create his own “homage” to Picasso’s revered artwork: a painting of Imelda herself in the style of Picasso that Pasaylo called “The Declining Woman.”
The painting inhabits a 4 x 3 ft. canvas and was painted in acrylic.
Pasaylo, who has been in the art scene for nine years, told Coconuts that he was inspired by the ruckus caused by the oft-discussed artwork.
“I got the courage to make my own version of one of Picasso’s artworks because as an artist, I feel what Pablo Picasso must have felt, knowing that one of my artworks that I worked hard and spent time on just suddenly disappears. I am concerned about this issue because I am an artist. As visual artists, our responsibility is to be aware of what happens around us,” Pasaylo explained.
The artist shared that it took him two weeks to finish the painting, and it got sold days after he posted about it.
“As an artist, the issue of [ill-gotten artworks] cannot be ignored. Regardless of whose pieces get stolen, this is not a good thing. If this were true, the artist’s works must be returned to the rightful owner or caretaker. If the issue were not true, we will continue to call for solutions about this issue,” Pasaylo added.
Reclining Woman VI made an appearance in Lauren Greenfield’s 2019 documentary about the Marcos family, The Kingmaker, but went missing soon after when the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) — a task force created after Marcos Sr.’s fall to chase after the family’s ill-gotten wealth — conducted a raid on former first lady Imelda Marcos’ apartment to seize the painting and other assets for litigation.
Yet when Marcos Jr.’s victory seemed imminent after the May 9 elections, said Picasso piece was spotted yet again on the wall of Imelda’s home in a segment on the news show TV Patrol.
Andy Bautista, the former PCGG chairman who also appeared in The Kingmaker, said that the supposedly missing Picasso piece was the same one that now hung on the wall of the Marcos home.
“This painting was also captured in #TheKingmaker,” he wrote on Twitter.
In The Kingmaker, the former first lady flaunts the rare antiquities and artwork in her collection. “[Ferdinand] Marcos would say, ‘Imelda, I know how to earn money properly, but you know how to spend money properly because you buy beauty’,” she said in the documentary as the camera pans over the Picasso piece.
In the documentary’s next segment, Bautista shared that PCGG had filed a motion with the Sandiganbayan to seize the Picasso painting and other assets.
“There was a team that went to her house in Makati and they took photographs of the walls,” he shared, showing side-by-side photos of the same wall where the Picasso painting and other artwork were once hung versus the wall that his team had encountered, on which the paintings had been replaced with portraits of Imelda and Marcos Sr.
Bautista also shared that his team had been alerted about an 1899 Monet painting, The Water-Lily Pond, that had been sold by a Marcos associate in New York for US$32 million. When Bautista confronted Imelda on whether she claimed ownership of the painting, she quipped, “In case I do say I own the painting, will it be given back to me?”
That said, the authenticity of the Picasso seen in the latest photo is up in the air, as Reclining Woman VI is included among the list of assets seized in the raid of the Marcos’ San Juan home in 2014, according to court records.
The Marcos camp has yet to issue any new statements regarding the status of the painting following the recent controversy.