24. This Dictator’s Wife Took Her Love of Designer Shoes to Bizarre Extremes
Filipino politician and public figure Imelda Marcos (1929 – ) is the widow of a former dictator and president Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled from 1966 to 1986. During her years as First Lady, she held various government posts and wielded great power, such that she became a de facto co-ruler of the country. Known as the “Steel Butterfly” for her combination of fashion sense and steely resolve, Imelda took full advantage of her access to power to enrich herself with rampant corruption and blatant graft. The Marcos dictatorship was a kleptocracy, and the ruling couple plundered the country to their hearts’ content.
The thieving duo were eventually overthrown in a 1986 popular uprising and were forced to flee the Philippines. By then they had stashed enough wealth in secret Swiss bank accounts, and accumulated various properties overseas, to afford an extremely comfortable retirement in Hawaii. However, they were unable to take all their ill-gotten gains and goodies with them. When the revolutionaries entered the Marcos palaces, they found evidence of an extravagant and opulent lifestyle. The greatest symbol of that was Imelda’s passion for designer shoes, which went beyond mere love to out and out bizarre obsession.