The Chinese government is denying any role in placing the winning bid at Christie’s on two sculptures which it says are looted objects. The winning bidder, Cai Mingchao, has since refused to pay for the pieces. BBC reports:
The official Xinhua news agency quoted an official as saying what Mr Cai had done was entirely a personal action.
“The State Administration of Cultural Heritage had nothing to do with it,” said the head of the cultural bureau, Shan Jixiang.
He said his bureau did not know the identity of the bidder until Cai Mingchao, an adviser to China’s National Treasures Fund that seeks to retrieve looted treasures, revealed himself.
At the NPC session, former foreign minister Li Zhaoxing spoke out against the auction:
“No matter which country one is from and what he does, he needs to consider not hurting his country’s reputation,” Li, spokesman for this year’s annual session of China’s top legislature, told a press conference.
Citing an ancient Chinese saying — “a gentleman should seek fortune in a decent way,” Li said, “I don’t think it’s a decent way to auction looted cultural relics.”
He said the auction hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, who have never done anything unfair to the auctioneer.