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Artist vs Central Bank
By CoinLink

Celebrated visual artist Romeo Mananquil, who migrated to Canada two decades ago, has an ax to grind with the central bank, for which he designed (together with two other Filipino artists) a series of banknotes and coins during the 1980s.

Our sources say Mananquil (who is identified with the flora and fauna coin series) was upset after recently finding out that his design for the now-demonetized P5 note—the green one that depicts Emilio Aguinaldo hoisting the Philippine flag in Kawit, Cavite—was used by the central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, or BSP, for the P100,000 centennial notes printed in 1999—allegedly without his consent and with some alteration.

Only 1,000 of these notes were issued in 1998 to commemorate the Centennial of Independence from more than 300 years of Spanish colonial rule. The notes were intended for collectors. The initial offering price was 180,000 Piso ($4175), substantially higher than the face value.

The 100,000 Piso note, measuring 356mm x 216mm (about the size of a legal page), is accredited by the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest legal tender note in terms of size.

Mananquil has sent his lawyers to assert his legal rights over the artwork, lamenting its “economic exploitation.”

Its lawyers argue that the central bank is considered as a co-owner of the artwork and therefore has the right to use it with or without the artist’s permission.

The artist’s lawyers recently wrote the Monetary Board, the policymaking body of the BSP, to appeal his case. Will this debate over intellectual property rights erupt into a courtroom battle?

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