The Chinese government is engaging in an epic temper tantrum after it failed to get a French court to halt the sale of the YSL/Bergé bronze heads of a rabbit and rat. In a statement that was reported in major news outlets in Asia, Europe and America, Chinese officials hinted darkly at retribution. Then Jackie Chan got in on the act.
AFP covers the most aggressive part of the statement:
“In recent years, Christie’s has frequently sold cultural heritage items looted or smuggled from China, and all items involved were illegally taken out of the country,” the State Administration of Cultural Heritage said.
The BBC News covers the rest of the Chinese statement which also contains a threat toward the firm:
“The State Administration of Cultural Heritage resolutely opposes and condemns all auctions of artefacts illegally taken abroad,” the agency said in a statement posted on its website. “Christie’s must take responsibility for the consequences created by this auction.” [ . . . ]
“This will have a serious impact on its development in China,” it said in the statement to the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party
In the midst of this escalating level of tension, the South China Morning Post puts out a report that reads like a calculated attempt to force Christie’s to intervene:
Citing unidentified sources linked to Christie’s management, Liu Shangyong – general manager of Rongbao Auctions, a major state-owned auction house in the Chinese capital – said Christie’s was still keen to talk the buyer into returning the items to the mainland. “But it’s not a sure deal yet,” he added.
The secretary to the director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, surnamed Tang, said it was unaware of such a deal and had not been approached about possible repatriation.
China Accuses Christie’s of Selling Smuggled Chinese Relics (AFP)
China Condemns Christie’s Auction (BBC News)
Christie’s Could Play a Role in Return of Heads (South China Morning Post)