July 16, 1990 12:00 PM

When it was finally over and Imelda Marcos had been acquitted of charges of defrauding her homeland, the deposed Philippine First Lady appeared determined to squelch her reputation as a heartless shopping machine. After the verdict, she staged an act of reverence that seemed designed for the TV cameras—shuffling up the aisle of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral on her (padded) knees, clutching a rosary and praying.

A few hours later, however, it became clear that Marcos, 61, and her equally extravagant co-defendant, Saudi-born arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, 54, also cleared of charges, were not about to let their victory slip by uncelebrated. At the Nile, a Middle Eastern night spot in Manhattan, the two gathered family, friends and lawyers for a lavish bash, creating their own gaudy Arabian night.

Following toasts, songs and kebabs, a belly dancer gyrated into the room, drawing hoots, stares and a shower of dollar bills. Erstwhile billionaire Khashoggi seemed more enamored, however, by the call he received from another fallen Midas, Donald Trump. Beamed Khashoggi: “He congratulated us!”

Weakened by the stress of the trial, the vindicated Marcos vowed, “Now I’m going to be real well.” Indeed her footwear showed that, at last, she may be feeling like the Imelda of old: Throughout the trial she had been shod in plain black, but tonight silver sparkles added a twinkle to her famous toes.

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