China is making a final move to try to stop the sale of the two figures from the Zodiac clock. The Washington Post covers the court case pursued by French lawyer Romauld Sayag:
Sayag submitted the request to halt the sale of the bronzes on behalf of APACE, a group mandated by the Chinese government to protect Chinese art on the world market. The group is not seeking to stop the full Saint Laurent auction, just the sale of the relics. APACE president Bernard Gomez said Saint Laurent legally bought the bronzes, but says they should now be put in a museum. The designer died last year. “What we want is for the pieces … not to go into the private domain, to a collector who will lock them up in his house,” Gomez said. The bronzes are “a national, and international heritage.” The Chinese government asked APACE to try to suspend the sale while it seeks other solutions, Gomez said. “China does not want to buy them. China wants restitution,” Gomez said. If they could be returned to the French government, he said, “That would improve relations between China and France.”
The past year has been a rough one for France-China ties. Chinese protesters called for a boycott of French goods after French protesters disrupted the passage of the Olympic torch through Paris in April.
China canceled a December summit with the European Union to protest talks between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama, whom the Chinese accuse of supporting Tibetan separatism.
Pierre Bergé further tweaked the Chinese with this quote from Reuters: “I acquired them and I am completely protected by the law, so what the Chinese are saying is a bit ridiculous,” he told Reuters, adding that he would be prepared to return them if China allowed the Dalai Lama back from exile into Tibet.
French Judged Asked to Stop Sale of Chinese Relics (Washington Post)