Jewellery once belonging to the wife of Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco are being offered for sale at London auction house Christie's.
An exquisite Art Déco diamond and emerald pendant necklace, matching drop earrings and a 19 carat marquise cut diamond ring all appear in the catalogue for a November 27th sale entitled “Important Jewels”.
The catalogue only lists the lots as belonging to “An Important Spanish Family” without identifying them further, but they are known to have belonged to the dictator’s wife Carmen Polo before being passed to their daughter, and only offspring, Carmen.
Carmen Franco, who died in 2017, was pictured wearing the diamond and emerald necklace to the wedding of the King’s elder sister Elena to Jaime de Marichalar in 1995 (Pictured below in Hola magazine).
Salen a subasta las espectaculares esmeraldas de Carmen Franco junto a otras de sus joyashttps://t.co/3rwuRUUh70
— Revista ¡HOLA! (@hola) November 12, 2019
The necklace last appeared adorning Margarita Vargas, the wife of Franco’s grandson Luis Alfonso de Burbon at a gala awards ceremony in 2016.
The items are expected to fetch between €300,000 and €400,000.
The sale has reignited a national debate over whether the descendants of Franco, who is said to have been responsible for the deaths of 300,000 people during the civil war and ensuing dictatorship, should be allowed to continue enjoying the spoils of his regime.
The Franco family legacy is a matter of controversy in Spain. With an estimated value of over €100 million, according to El Pais, assets belonging to the dictator’s grandchildren include a palace, 22 homes, 29 country estates, as well as five commercial premises and 195 garage spaces.
These include the Pazo de Meirás which was used by the dictator as a summer retreat in Galicia after it was ‘gifted’ to him by the people of A Coruña. In reality it was expropriated by the state and the families of those evicted are still fighting for compensation.
On Wednesday, the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH) demanded that the Spanish government look into the sale and determine whether the items could be considered “plundered assets” and therefore returned to the people of Spain.
“The sale is worth investigating considering the dubious origin of his fortune and that was built on corruption , pillage and misappropriation,” said a spokesman from the ARHM, a group that campaigns for justice for the victims of the Franco and has led the struggle to find, exhume and identify those still lying in unmarked graves across Spain.
“The Franco family fortune was built on the suffering of millions of people, the looting of thousands of properties, and the emptying of the National Heritage, initiated by the Generalissimo Foundation as soon as the war ended, in 1939.”
“Is it right that the family of a brutal dictator be allowed to profit from such a heritage?” they ask.