The controversial sale at auction of two ancient statues has taken another twist with the man who bought them saying he has no intention of paying as by rights they belong to China.
The bronze animal heads were part of a collection belonging to the late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent that went under the hammer in Paris last week. But the man who successfully bid 15 billion euros for each of them says he was acting out of patriotism. He was representing a group devoted to recovering lost Chinese treasures. The figures were looted from Beijing’s Summer Palace in 1860 as it was being overrun by French and British forces. Auctioneers Christies say they will not be released until payment is made in full. A spokesman said: “This man is known as a great collector. He’s already paid 15 million euros for a buddha, so he’s perfectly capable of paying. But China has a great sense of honour and doesn’t like to lose face.” The theft of the artefacts is a very sensitive issue in China and people regularly visit the site of the now ruined Imperial Palace. But it does not seem like they will be seeing the lost statues in Beijing any time soon.