In the early hours of a February morning in 1986, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos flew into exile. … In the two C-141 transport planes that carried them, they had packed: 23 wooden crates; 12 suitcases and bags, and various boxes, whose contents included enough clothes to fill 67 racks; 413 pieces of jewellery, including 70 pairs of jewel-studded cufflinks; an ivory statue of the infant Jesus with a silver mantle and a diamond necklace; 24 gold bricks, inscribed “To my husband on our 24th anniversary”; and more than 27m Philippine pesos in freshly-printed notes. The total value was $15m.
This was a fortune by any standards, easily enough to see the couple through the rest of their lives. Yet the new government of the Philippines knew this was only a very small part of the Marcoses’ wealth. The reality, they discovered, was that Ferdinand Marcos had amassed a fortune up to 650 times greater. According to a subsequent estimate by the Philippine supreme court, he had accumulated up to $10bn while in office.
Since his official salary had never risen above $13,500 a year, it was blazingly clear this was stolen wealth on the most spectacular scale.