Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Take That Running Dogs!

I don't care what you think of the Communist Chinese. This is pretty awesome.
A Chinese man’s assertion that he sabotaged the auction of two Qing dynasty
bronzes at Christie’s in Paris last week handed Beijing a wry public-relations coup on Monday after it battled for months to block the sale.

The man, Cai Mingchao, a collector and auctioneer, said at a news conference in Beijing that he had submitted the two winning $18 million bids for the bronze heads of a rat and a rabbit on Wednesday, but that he had no intention of paying for them. He described himself as a consultant for a nongovernmental group that seeks to bring looted artifacts back to China, and said he had acted out of patriotic duty.
The artifacts are part of the auction of Yves St. Laurent's art collection, which has been setting off shivers of excitement among the glitterati. St. Laurent's "partner" is looking for his payday after his years of loyal service. Nice work if you can get it.
The two bronzes, which date from 1750, were part of a 12-animal water-clock
fountain configured around the Chinese zodiac in the imperial gardens of the
Summer Palace outside Beijing. In 1860 the palace was sacked by British and
French forces during the Opium Wars. Around that time, the heads disappeared.
Mr. Bergé suggested Monday that the Chinese government was behind the
apparent collapse of the deal. Speaking on French radio, he said he was “not
very surprised” by the latest twist, Agence France-Presse reported.
“The Chinese for a long time would have done anything to recover these pieces,” he
said. “They didn’t recover them, so I imagine they pressured a potential buyer
not to buy them.”
I'm sure that St. Laurent bought this stuff from what he considered to be legitimate sources. However, the question of looting national treasures is an on-going sore point for the third world, and for good reason. Many such objects were simply stolen during periods of conquest or colonial control without any hint of a willing buyer and seller.

It's an added bonus that the sort of sophisticated baronial types who buy these looted goods are also the sort of people who undoubtedly look down on hick Americans and their "bad" taste in art. The truth is the Vanity Fair set is as grasping and materialist as any nouveau riche' in a rented Ferrari.

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