Pinault family returns looted Chinese relics

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua and Shanghai Daily, April 27, 2013
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The family of French luxury goods retailer Pinault announced Friday in Beijing that it will donate two pieces of looted Chinese cultural relics back to China.

The relics, sculptures of a bronze rabbit and a bronze rat head, once appeared in the Yuanmingyuan, the Old Summer Palace. [File photo] 

The relics, sculptures of a bronze rabbit and a bronze rat head, once appeared in the Yuanmingyuan, the Old Summer Palace. They were looted by Anglo-French allied forces during the Second Opium War in 1860.

The two bronze heads were auctioned for 14 million euros (17.92 million U.S. dollars) each in Paris in 2009, which triggered wide international concerns and protests in China.

The Pinault family bought the sculptures from their previous owner and expressed its will to donate them back to China for free.

Pinault expects to return the relics in August or September, while the Chinese officials hope they can be sent back to their home country in July.

"The rat's head and a rabbit's head will be collected by the National Museum," said Song Xinchao, vice director of the State Culture Relics Bureau. He expressed gratitude to Pinault and his family.

Pinault Group Chairman and CEO Francois-Henri Pinault is visiting China with French President Francois Hollande from April 25 to 26.

The Chinese side spoke positively of the act, regarding it as an observation of international conventions concerning the protection of cultural heritage, a token of friendship and conducive to bringing more looted Chinese relics back home.

China, along with many countries who lost their cultural relics, is making efforts to bring them back to their home country, which has received a positive response and support from the international community.

So far, five of the 12 bronze animal fountain heads in Yuanmingyuan have returned, but the whereabouts of five others are still unknown. 

 

 

 

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