A photographer takes a picture of the
Chinese bronze rat head and rabbit head sculptures displayed on the
preview of the auction of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge's art
collection at the Grand Palais in Paris, France, Feb. 21, 2009. Chinese
lawyers have filed a motion to a French court seeking an injunction to
stop auction house Christie's putting two bronze relics looted from China
under the hammer, lawyers said Friday. The two relics, a bronze rat head
and a bronze rabbit head, were looted from China's imperial summer resort
Yuanmingyuan when it was burnt down by Anglo-French allied forces during
the Second Opium War in 1860. (Xinhua/Zhang Yuwei)
BEIJING, March 2 (Xinhua) -- China said here Monday
that Christie's auction of the two looted Chinese relics last week was a lesson
to the whole world, including the French people.
China had tried to dissuade Christie's from
auctioning the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) bronze rabbit and rat heads sculptures,
which were looted from Yuanmingyuan, the Old Summer Palace, by Anglo-French
allied forces during the Second Opium War in 1860.
After China's repeated efforts ended in futile, the
Association for the Protection of Chinese Art in Europe filed a motion at the
Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris, seeking an injunction to stop the auction.
But the motion was rejected by the court on Feb.23.
The rejection had caused strong reaction in China and
people started to question the value of the French culture, Zhao Qizheng,
spokesman of the second session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese
People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
"We have always admired the French culture. What
happened this time? Does French culture get sick? What kind of value is behind
this?" Zhao quoted online comments as saying.
But Zhao also said he believed that the value of
French culture is not carried by a handful of people, but by the whole French
He went on quoting several French writers including
Victor Hugo, whose works truthfully recorded the history.
"In the eyes of history, one of the two outlaws will
be called France, the other will be called England. I hope there will come a day
when France, liberated and cleaned up, will send back this booty to a plundered
China," Zhao quoted Hugo as saying.
He also quoted Bernard Brizay, author of "1860: the
Looting of the Old Summer Palace", as saying that for the French, the looting of
Yuanmingyuan would be the same as if the Prussians in 1870 had razed Versailles
down to the ground, looted the Louvre (museum) and set fire to the national
library, as Yuanmingyuan was all of those at once.
Zhao said former French President Jacques Chirac read
Brizay's book and expressed his appreciation to the author, who as a French,
clearly recorded that part of history.
The two relics were auctioned last week for 14
million euros (17.92 million U.S. dollars) each to anonymous telephone bidders
in Christie's sale of the collection of Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) and Pierre
Berge in the Grand Palace of Paris.
After the sale, China's cultural heritage authorities
ordered strict checks of all exports and imports by Christie's in China.
On Monday, a Chinese antique collector named Cai
Mingchao identified himself as the person behind the winning bids for the two
relics. But he said at a press conference that he will not pay for the bid.
Cai, a collection advisor of the National Treasures
Fund in China, said he believed that "any Chinese person would stand up at this
time" and he was making an effort to fulfil his own responsibilities.
So far, five of the 12 bronze animal fountain heads
in Yuanmingyuan have been returned, while the whereabouts of five others are
Chinese bidder of looted sculptures refuses to pay
Cai Mingchao (3rd R), a collection advisor of National Treasures Fund who successfully bid for two looted bronze sculptures auctioned in Paris last week, attends a news conference in Beijing, on March 2, 2009. (Xinhua/Xing Guangli)
BEIJING, March 2 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese man who successfully bid for two looted bronze sculptures auctioned in Paris last week says his winning bid will not be paid.
Cai Mingchao, a collection advisor of National Treasure Funds of China (NTFC), bid 31.49 million euros (39.63 million U.S. dollars) by telephone during the auction at Christie's on Feb. 25,Niu Xianfeng, deputy director of the fund, said at a brief press conference Monday. Full story
Feature: Auction of looted Chinese
relics hurts China's cultural rights
BEIJING, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- As two pieces of looted
Chinese relics were on the stage for auction in the Grand Palace of Paris on
Wednesday, a group of Chinese students gathered in front of the palace and
handed out leaflets about the history of Yuanmingyuan (Old Summer Palace) and
the Second Opium War.
The two bronzes are something new to the French, but
history to the Chinese, Li Huan, a Chinese student studying in France told
Xinhua. Full story
Looted Chinese relics sold for 14
million euros each
PARIS, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- Two controversial ancient
Chinese relics were auctioned off on Wednesday night for 14 million euros (17.92
million U.S. dollars) each by anonymous telephone bidders in Christie's sale of
the collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge in the Grand Palace of
According to Christie's, they have received 8 phone calls
for "enquiries" before the sale. After the auction was launched, the competition
was only conducted between telephone bidders, with no one in the scene raised
for a bid. Full story