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Post time 2017-9-7 18:42:29 |Display all floors
This post was edited by markwu at 2017-9-7 18:45 ... their-art-back.html

The Chinese Want Their Art Back


OVER the course of five days in March, Christie’s auctioned off the holdings of the dealer Robert H. Ellsworth, who, before his death last year at age 85, filled his 22-room apartment on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan with what was said to be one of the world’s most comprehensive private collections of Asian art, earning him the nickname “King of Ming.” The sale fetched $134 million, nearly four times the presale estimate of $35 million.

Chinese art has become a prized liquid asset for superrich collectors, who, instead of putting their treasures on display, often deposit them in carefully guarded, climate-controlled warehouses. But the media’s emphasis on the white-hot market for contemporary Chinese works overlooks a more interesting story: the effort by the Chinese government, state-run companies, private collectors and even, quite probably, some criminal networks to bring Chinese antiquities back home.

One impetus for this effort is the Communist Party’s embrace of traditional culture as “a foundation for China to compete in the world,” as President Xi Jinping said in October. Having for decades viewed antiquities as relics of feudal oppression and bourgeois decadence, the party now says art can “lead people to live a life abiding by the code of morality,” in that way contributing to social stability. Old art is again prestigious; new buyers seek canonical work for the social status, not just potential profit, it confers.

The party has taken its new stance on culture at a time of rising nationalism. China openly promotes efforts to repatriate works pillaged during its self-defined “century of humiliation,” from the Opium Wars of the 1840s and 1850s to the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949.

Perhaps the most notorious affront in that period was the sacking of the magnificent Old Summer Palace by British and French troops encircling Beijing in 1860, at the end of the Second Opium War. The invaders torched or leveled as many as 200 buildings, stripping the nearly thousand-acre site of sculptures, silk robes, jewelry and even Pekingese dogs, then unknown in Europe. (Queen Victoria was presented with a puppy, named “Looty.”)

The destruction was ordered by one James Bruce, the eighth Earl of Elgin — whose father had, some 60 years earlier, ordered the removal of the friezes from the Parthenon in Athens. For decades, Greece has vainly demanded that Britain return the Elgin marbles (which are on permanent display at the British Museum), even going so far as to construct a museum that would house them.

China has taken a different approach: Instead of pressing formal demands for repatriation, it lets money do the talking. Through a corporate offshoot of the People’s Liberation Army, the China Poly Group, the government has turned the auction block into a patriotic battlefield.

Take, for example, 12 animal heads wrenched from a zodiac fountain that once glistened below the European-style Hall of Calm Seas at the palace. In 2000, auctions held in Hong Kong by Sotheby’s and Christie’s featured three of the heads. China’s Bureau of Cultural Relics urged the auction houses to withdraw the bronzes, citing a Unesco convention.

When both companies declined and the auctions went ahead, the winning bids were cast by the Poly Group. They went on view at the Poly Art Museum in Beijing, which subsequently secured three more zodiac heads. One of the three was donated by a Macao gambling tycoon; the other two were bid on at a 2009 Christie’s sale in Paris by a Chinese buyer who then refused to pay for them. In 2013, François-Henri Pinault, whose company owns the auction house, gave them to China as a good-will gesture.

'nuff said.

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Post time 2017-9-7 18:47:00 |Display all floors
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Post time 2017-9-7 18:49:17 |Display all floors
Yin_99 Post time: 2017-9-7 18:47
Isn't it straightfoward for us to re-purchase them back, rather should we rush to those countries an ...

why should one repurchase what was stolen from oneself?

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Post time 2017-9-7 18:50:33 |Display all floors
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Post time 2017-9-7 18:50:45 |Display all floors
to prick their conscience by not doing anything?

in the first place they did not have any conscience when they stole China's treasures.

right OR wrong?!

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Post time 2017-9-7 18:52:28 |Display all floors
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Post time 2017-9-7 18:55:11 |Display all floors
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