Friday, April 26, 2013

Christie's Negotiates Return of Bronzes to China, Paid For By Pinault

Christie's Ban in China Lifted after Return of Disputed Bronze Fountain Heads

Christie's Negotiates Return of Bronzes to China, Paid For By Pinault

Qianlong Imperial Summer Palace, The Yuan Ming Yuan
A few weeks ago an article appeared in the New York Times anouncing Christie's has gotten permission and a the first ever special license from the Chinese Mainlaind Government to conduct an auction INSIDE China. The auction is scheduled to take place in Shanghai.

This was a curious announcement as several years ago Christie's got into a spat with the Chinese Govenment resulting in limitations being placed on them and their business activities.

How Did This Happen? Why Did China Do this?

After reading the announcement  I like many instantly thought about the fight started back in 2009 over the Yuan Ming Yuan Chinese Bronzes...So what happened? As the famous announcer Paul Harvey used to say.. , "now for the rest of the story".

All has been Forgiven Between China and Christie's and the Pinault's

The disagreement was over an auction conducted by Christie's in Paris containing two fine Qianlong period animal head bronzes, a Rat and Rabbit. Both had been looted from the Yuan Ming Yuan Summer Palace fountain by the French Army in 1860 following the second Opium War.

In 2009 Christie's conducted an auction of the estate of the late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent in Paris. At that time the Chinese government had demanded the two bronzes, be returned to China.

Soon rumors spread following the auction that a shill bidder had bought the bronzes on behalf of the Chinese Government with no intention of paying for them. The bidding had reached nearly 40 Million Dollars . It was a MESS, a Messy MESS. The YSL estate had been inherited by his companion Pierre Berge and was in no mood to discus the heads being repatriated as he had issues over Human Rights Violations of the Chinese Government.

Disputed "Rat and Rabbit" Bronze Heads
Looted in 1860 From Fountain at Yuan Ming Yuan
Since then Christie's had been basically banned from entering China for business purposes. The
bronzes then were returned to  Pierre Berge.

Fast forward to day, a few weeks ago Christie's was given a license to conduct auctions in Shanghai and today we now know why. They in the end helped negotiate the return of the two bronzes to China purportedly with the financial assistance of French billionaire Francois Pinault’s family in France.

Before you get all warm and fussy over this gesture by the French Multi Billionaire..

I forgot to mention one small thing...!!

Francois Pinault Owns Both Christie's and Yves Saint Laurent



The Bronze Heads already in China, now joined
by the ones stolen by the French in 1860.

The  Pinnault family OWNS 100% of Christie's as well as Yves Saint Laurent, along with a slew of other luxury goods companies including Gucci through their PPR Conglomerate.




His family has an estimated net worth of 16 billion dollars...

 China Is Important to Pinault


China has become one of the PPR Company's biggest markets...and its growing rapidly.

He just bought a lot of goodwill for a few million dollars. How much he paid for them has not been disclosed. Its has however been estimated to be between 20 to 30 million dollars.


  • Interestingly he also a High School dropout..think about that as you write those tuition checks for college....




All is well..