According to AFP, at least one Chinese official sees some negative aspects to the actions of Cai Minchao, the antiques dealer who is reneging on his bids for the zodiac clock bronzes:
Zhao Yu, a senior culture ministry official, told the Beijing Times that Cai’s behaviour during and after last week’s Christie’s auction had done no favour to his compatriots.
“In overseas auctions… bidders usually need no deposit and simply rely on their reputation,” said Zhao.”The fact that Cai Mingchao has gone back on his word in reality means he has undermined the credibility enjoyed by Chinese people at large international auctions.”
Then, again, the Los Angeles Times reports that other Chinese officials are still generating praise:
“He is so much more civilized than those who did the looting,” wrote one of the commentators. At a session Monday of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body to the Chinese government, spokesman Zhao Qizheng said the controversy over the bronze was a “history lesson for all.”
The New York Times adds a few interesting quotes to the back-and-forth:
Months earlier, Mr. Dolman pointed out, Christie’s privately offered the heads to the Chinese government at a price “significantly less than the underbidder was willing to pay” on Wednesday. “They rejected the offer because they thought the price was too high,” he said.
Mr. Bergé could have asked Christie’s to approach the bidders who were outbid at the auction and to sell the bronzes privately. But he told France-Info radio that he would keep them if Mr. Cai did not pay, The Associated Press reported.
Mr. Dolman, when asked if Mr. Cai would be allowed to take part in future Christie’s auctions, said: “He certainly won’t be allowed to bid if it is determined that this was a deliberate act to spoil the auction. Then he has acted unlawfully.”
China Bronzes Will Likely Remain in France (Los Angeles Times)
Twist in Sale of Relics has China Winking (New York Times)