Writer’s Family Fights Looted Manuscript Sale

The grandson of writer and translator Zhou Zuoren (1885-1967) is fighting to stop the auction of an one of his manuscripts in Hong Kong, according to the South China Morning Post. The document is expected to fetch upwards of $100,000, but Zhou Jiyi claims that its sale is illegal, as it was looted from the family home during the Cultural Revolution.

“I’ve demanded the auction house return the manuscript because it’s an item I couldn’t be more familiar with,” he said. “I’m so happy that we can still see it after more than 40 years, though I’d never expected it to surface this way ….”

The auction house said yesterday that the family had been unable to provide it with “a list of looted items” or a document proving its ownership, both requested by its lawyers. “Based on that, we believe that what they’ve said is not enough for us to withdraw the item from auction,” it said ….

Tsinghua University sociologist Li Dun said it was absurd to ask the family to provide a list and the ownership of the manuscript was obvious, given the Cultural Revolution context. He said the legal battle would involve uncertainty because there were few legal precedents and a lack of legal enforcement on looted items.

Zhou Zuoren was the brother of Zhou Shuren, more commonly known by the pen name Lu Xun.