An Election in the Philippines Clarified the Location of a Picasso Painting

How it got there remains controversial

Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso poses in his Paris studio.
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This month has seen a consequential election in the Philippines — one which saw the son of a former head of state elected to the nation’s highest office. There’s been a lot of analysis written about the election and what it says about the state of the nation in question.

Of particular interest to art historians is one particular tangent that’s emerged from reports covering the election — and how it relates to a painting by Pablo Picasso that was believed lost for many years.

As The Art Newspaper reports, this ties back in to the period where Ferdinand Marcos was in power in the Philippines, which ended with Marcos and his wife Imelda leaving the country after massive protests against his regime in 1986. The couple used their position to live extravagantly and purchase numerous works of art, including Picasso’s Reclining Woman VI.

Since Marcos left office, it’s been unclear whether he and his wife took the painting with them or if some other fate had befallen it. Given that their son, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is the Philippines’ president-elect, this question returned to the spotlight. And, in a video of his mother congratulating him, the Picasso is visible in the background. It’s an art mystery solved, albeit with the controversy that surrounded it still in play.

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