Francois Pinault’s son, Francois-Henri, has finally found a use for Christie’s. Besides extracting the right to conduct auctions directly in China for the auction house, the luxury goods CEO is using Christie’s pivotal role at the center of an international drama over a Jesuit-designed Zodiac clock that was looted by European troops to turn a liability into an asset.
Pinault seems to have acquired the two Zodiac heads from Pierre Bergé, who was none too accommodating to the Chinese government, and is now offering them up as a gift of friendship, according to The Financial Times:
“The family went to great efforts to retrieve these two significant treasures of China and strongly believe they belong in their rightful home,” Mr Pinault said. “The family has an international portfolio of businesses with a considerable presence in China. The Pinault Family controls the Kering Group.” […]
The offer by François-Henri Pinault, who is also head of PPR, the luxury goods group, to return the rare bronze animal heads was praised as “an expression of friendship toward the Chinese people,’’ by the country’s Administration of Cultural Heritage.
Mr Pinault was in a delegation of businessmen travelling in China with French President François Hollande during whose visit China placed a $4bn order for Airbus wide-body passenger jets.
Pinault Family Offers to Return Bronze Heads to China (Financial Times)