LONDON — As treasure-in-the-attic stories go, the 18th-century Chinese vase sold at a suburban auction house in outer London on Thursday night will be hard to beat.
The delicate, decorative 16-inch vase started at a not-inconsequential $800,000, but after a half-hour of unexpectedly spirited bidding, the gavel fell at $69.5 million. It was the highest price ever paid at auction for a Chinese antiquity.
Hmmmmm … from $800k to $70 mil .. my first thought was that the buyer must be a Chinese from China. I kid you not. Who else on earth would do that?
Think about the auction in Paris of two Chinese sculptures, who refused to pay after winning the bid to protest the sale.
Frank Rich asks who will stand up to the super rich? hmmmmm… On one hand, some might feel the newly rich would or could often disrupt an orderly market; but on the other who’s going to question the motivation of a patriot to bring home the history?
I got hold of Aftershock DVD and watched the special features at the end. There is a tradition in Tangshan after the devastating quake that surviving residents burn the joss paper (冥币, 紙錢) annually. In the interview, the director Feng said that during filming the scene of ghost money burning, when he called it cut, the professionals stopped on cue but the extras continued. They just simply couldn’t stop. The B-roll showed the scene, very touching.
.. Has money to burn ..
China certainly is.
But is this a way to go about bring home the relics? Italy, etc. had pressed other countries to return their treasured objects, many were ill-gotten. Why wouldn’t China do the same? How that London family got this vase? From the looting of YuanmingYuan, the Old Summer Palace 圆明园 in 1860? Stand up Hu Jintao, please.