Hamilton's attorney shrugged off suggestions of sweetheart deals, saying Hamilton repaid Floirendo. However, Floirendo declared in his affidavit that all the money went to other individuals or shell corporations on orders from Mrs. Marcos, and that she dictated who controlled the loans.
First, the promissory note was canceled after Hamilton, at the request of Floirendo's lawyers, endorsed a cashier's check for $2,027,068.49 to a man named Bernard White. Floirendo said it was Mrs. Marcos who directed that the check be endorsed to White.
"I did not receive any amount from that check," Floirendo said in his affidavit.
He also said that Mrs. Marcos later ordered him to transfer the $4-million mortgage on the Hamilton house to another Caribbean shell corporation, Krodo Properties NV, in May, 1984.
Attorneys for the Philippine government believe that Krodo was a secret entity of the Marcoses, used to funnel money to Hamilton or to control the property without revealing their interests.
In March, 1986, as the Marcoses settled into exile in Hawaii, Hamilton's house was sold to a Cayman Islands corporation controlled by Saudi financier and arms merchant Adnan Khashoggi for $6.5 million. Khashoggi assumed the $4-million Krodo loan, and he has acknowledged acting at the behest of the Marcoses.
Hamilton's attorney, Greenberg, said that his client made a profit on the house sale, but he did not know how much. It was unclear whether Khashoggi put up any of his own cash to complete the deal.
Assistant U.S. Atty. LaBella characterized the Floirendo loans and elements of the 1986 house sale as "strange transactions" that appeared to disguise the transfer of Marcos funds out of the Philippines via the Beverly Hills property.
"It had all the appearance of a sham transaction," the Philippines' Laguatan said.
But Hamilton's attorney said that the actor thought he was dealing only with Khashoggi, Floirendo and their agents.
"I don't believe (Hamilton) had any reason to believe he was dealing with money belonging to Mrs. Marcos," Greenberg said. "It was an arm's-length transaction. He made deposits in his own name, not fictitious accounts . . . . It was all above board."
Whatever happened in the past, the future of the former Hamilton house is certain: it goes to the Philippine government as soon as the agreement, already approved, is filed.
Los Angeles lawyers Alan I. Bersin and Ronald L. Olson, representing the Aquino government in a civil fraud action against the Marcoses, are expected to deliver the deed to officials in Manila next week. The Manila government plans to sell the house, now valued at more than $5 million, to help shore up its depleted hard currency reserves.
Although Hamilton maintains that he has had no involvement with the house since selling it to Khashoggi in 1986, he nonetheless is laying claim to art and furnishings in the house that he says are personal belongings "of great sentimental value" to his mother.
Among the disputed items, estimated to be worth as much as $500,000, are pre-Columbian pottery, a painting of Rudolf Valentino and a red velvet Victorian tete-a-tete on lion paw supports. Greenberg could not explain why Hamilton waited so long to claim items in a house he sold more than four years ago.
Acquisition of the Beverly Hills house will add to a growing list of recent property recoveries in the United States made by the Philippine government which has filed a civil racketeering case in Los Angeles federal court, seeking to recover some of the billions of dollars it claims was stolen by the Marcoses and their cronies.
Earlier this year, in out-of-court settlements jointly negotiated with New York federal prosecutors, the Philippines took over a $30-million Beverly Hills bank formerly controlled by the Marcoses and numerous art works valued at about $10 million. Previously, the Philippines had gained control of Lindenmere, four Manhattan skyscrapers and the posh Olympic Tower suites.
Philippine government sources said they discovered that both Hamilton and his mother had their own keys to the Olympic Tower home--which apparently caused some embarrassment, they said, when Hamilton tried to enter shortly after the Marcos regime collapsed.
"We already had changed the locks," one official said. "He was going to show the apartment to Elizabeth Taylor, but they couldn't get in."
Philippine journalist Kristina M. Luz contributed to this story.
Memphis-born George Stevens Hamilton, 51, arrived in Hollywood at age 19 with a state acting award from Florida. He almost immediately landed the lead in a low-budget film, "Crime and Punishment, U.S.A." MGM put him under contract. When Hamilton met with studio officials to negotiate, he showed up in a rented Rolls-Royce. His playboy image was born. That image has been reinforced over the years by a lavish lifestyle and decades of noted romances with rich and famous women. More recently, Hamilton has been increasingly prominent as an entrepreneur in the tanning and skin care business, marketing his own line of cosmetics and colognes. Newsweek magazine dubbed him "the Sultan of suntan."