Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Evita's silk shroud on display

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- A blue-and-white silk shroud used to cloak the remains of Eva Peron and sold at a Christie's auction for $158,000 earlier this year was unveiled Tuesday for public display.

The shroud was sold at auction in Rome and bought by the chairman of Aerolineas Argentinas, Argentina's flagship carrier, who donated it to the national government.

The shroud was a highlight of a 56-lot Peron collection that included clothing, official documents, and furniture from Argentina's famous first lady and her husband, Juan Domingo Peron.

In making the donation, Antonio Mata said he felt it was his responsibility to return the shroud to Argentina, where it will be displayed for public viewing. The shroud's sale had sparked indignation among some in this South American country.

"Our idea was to restore this national treasure to its rightful home," Mata said during a ceremony in Congress. "We wanted this to be returned to its legitimate owners: all Argentines."

Juan Peron commissioned the shroud in 1971 to cover "Evita's" remains, which were moved frequently after her 1952 death from cancer. The body was finally repatriated from Milan in 1974.

The memorabilia was auctioned in March by a humanitarian foundation created in 1986 at the behest of Peron.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press.