During Ferdinand Marcos’ time as president, his reported salary was never more than $13,500 annually. It should have been given that his family would live with this amount accordingly. However, when you look at Imelda Marcos’ lifestyle alone (not considering the president and the children’s expenses yet) – it does not really figure.
During the years of his rule in the Philippines, Imelda had a lifestyle that was larger than life. Observing her tastes, purchases, and lifestyle – one can say that she loves beautiful, luxurious, and lavish things. She has accustomed herself to a lifestyle that’s not befitting to a husband who does not make more than $13,500 a year. How is that so?
Let’s start with her infamous love for shoes – a passion she didn’t even bother to conceal. She had over a thousand shoes and are from international luxury brands and local as well. The more expensive shoes were from Dior, Gucci, Givenchy, Ferragamo, and Bally to name a few. She loved her designer footwear a bit too much it made her famous for it.
She also has a penchant for expensive and branded jewelry as well. Imelda owned a Bulgari bracelet valued at about USD 1 million in 1986. And as if that’s not enough, she dropped a whopping USD 200,000 for a Cartier bracelet.
The Philippine government was able to take back 760 pieces of jewelry, the estimated total value is at USD 6 million. Later on, Imelda would even argue that she should have her jewelry back.
Imelda liked to party with an international crowd which of course entailed more spending not just on jewelry but on clothes as well. She spent around USD 200,000 worth of clothes once at Emmanuel Ungaro alone during a shopping spree.
And the end of their ruling era, she collected about 500 pieces of long gowns, 15 mink coats, more than 800 pieces of handbags and let’s not even forget about her infamous collection of shoes.
Her love for beautiful things isn’t limited to clothes, shoes, and jewelry. She was into collecting rare and highly coveted art pieces also. She acquired artworks from Michelangelo, Picasso, Monet, and such.
When they left Malacañang Palace, they took the paintings with them too. Even the masterpieces in their New York home were carted away days after they fled the Philippines.
When the Marcos family left the Philippines in 1986, included in their cargo were 24 gold bricks engraved with “To my husband on our 24th anniversary”. And that’s not all, they had 413 pieces of assorted jewelry with them and 27 million worth of Philippine money. On their exile alone, the value of the money and properties they carried with them amounted to fifteen million US dollars.
Clearly her expenses amounted to more than $13,500 annually. If she wanted it, she bought it –never mind that it’s not within her husband’s income. If she spent more than her late husband’s salary per year (and much, much more than that)? Who paid for that excess? How could she have afforded all of those? Go figure.
Nick Davies, “The $10bn question: what happened to the Marcos millions?,” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/07/10bn-dollar-question-marcos-millions-nick-davies, (May 7, 2016).
“Imelda Marcos’s shoe collection gathers mould after years of neglect,” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/sep/23/imelda-marcos-shoe-collection-mould, (September 23, 2012)