More Testimony About Paintings Bought by Adnan Khashoggi
NEW YORK (AP) _ A French police official on Monday identified 26 paintings that had been seized in France as works purchased by Saudi financier Adnan Khashoggi from former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos.
Prosecutors claim the paintings, as well as four Manhattan buildings, were bought by Mrs. Marcos and her late husband, Ferdinand E., with funds allegedly embezzled from their homeland’s treasury.
Khashoggi, a co-defendant, is accused of forging documents to help the Marcoses conceal their ownership of the paintings and real estate in violation of a U.S. court order freezing any transactions involving Marcos-owned properties.
But Khashoggi’s attorneys say his dealings with the Marcoses occurred before the March 1986 injunction, just after they fled the Philippines for exile in Hawaii.
An art expert testified that the 26 paintings Khashoggi bought from Marcos had a much lower market value in 1986 than the $6.5 million he paid for the entire group of 38 ″old master″ paintings. The paintings weren’t identified in court.
Ian Glenn Kennedy, a senior vice president at Christie’s auction house, testified that an appraisal of the 26 paintings showed their combined value four years ago would have ranged from $1.7 million to $2.7 million.
Ealier in the day, Christian Rene LeBeau, an officer with the French Judicial Police’s art theft unit, identified 26 paintings that had been seized in 1987 in Paris and Cannes. He did so from photographs of the paintings supplied by prosecutors.
Testifying through a translator, LeBeau said he was in charge of the search for the paintings after U.S. authorities asked France for help.
He was called to the stand after the testimony Friday of Jean-Paul Renard, an investigating magistrate from Cannes, France, and Fernand DeZacharia, a French-English translator who had been present when Khashoggi appeared twice before Renard in 1987.
English translations of those two interviews, entered into evidence during DeZacharia’s testimony, contain Khashoggi saying that his decision to buy the paintings was made in 1985 and that payment of $6.5 million followed in two installments in March and May of 1986.
Under cross-examination, LeBeau was asked by lawyers for both Khashoggi and Mrs. Marcos whether their clients ever had been charged in France with trafficking in stolen art.
When LeBeau said he could not answer the questions, U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan told jurors that the information had as much to do with this case ″as the man in the moon.″
Mrs. Marcos, 60, has pleaded innocent to charges of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud and obstruction of justice. Her husband, who also was charged in the 1988 indictment, died in September in exile in Hawaii.
Khashoggi is charged with obstruction of justice and mail fraud.