Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Flood, a Map and a Rich Patriot Who Wants to Tweak China's Nose

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Flood, a Map and a Rich Patriot Who Wants to Tweak China's Nose

Article excerpt

Byline: Kate Proctor Local Government Reporter

AHISTORIC map hidden for years among the Duke of Northumberland's family heirlooms is now at the centre of an international dispute over the South China Sea.

The 1734 Murillo Map which the 12th Duke of Northumberland sold at auction last autumn for over PS170,000 will be submitted by the Philippine government to a United Nations Tribunal at the Hague.

The fragile hand-drawn document had been in his family for around 200 years and shows the fought-over Scarborough Shoal as being part of Philippine territory and not belonging to China.

The map was bought by a Filipino businessman who said buying it became a 'personal crusade' and will be used by government officials to hopefully settle a long-standing territorial dispute when it's heard at the UN's Permanent Court of Arbitration.

The case between the two nations has been ongoing since 2013 with a final judgement expected in March 2016. It is believed that the map will be used in proceedings next month.

The map's origins date back to the early 18th century when Jesuit priest Pedro Murillo Velarde had the map published in the Philippine capital of Manila.

It surfaced among the possessions of the Duke, who put it up for auction at Sotheby's in London in November, months after his earlier July auction of artworks and furniture, including a 1AD Roman Aphrodite sculpture, fetched PS32m.

The two auctions are considered the largest ever sale of possesions by an English aristocratic family and possessions mainly came from their home Syon Park near London, and not their Northumberland residence Alnwick Castle.

The money went towards the costs involved in fixing a culvert at Newburn in Newcastle in 2012 which flooded and eventually brought down two blocks of flats.

Filipino businessman Mel Velarde said he was out at dinner celebrating his mother's birthday when he began bidding over the phone for the map, which he felt could be of some assistance in the ongoing United Nations case. …

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