February 27, 2009
Kung-Fu star Jackie Chan has added his support to the campaign to the campaign to recover for China the artefacts being auctioned from the collection of Yves Saint Lauren. This is not the first time that Jackie Chan has spoken out about the looted cultural property that fill many of the major museums of the West.
February 27, 2009
Buy them back
China could have regained its summer palace bronzes by opening its chequebook
China has come out fighting in its battle against the sale in Paris of two looted sculptures from the collection of Yves Saint Laurent. Literally.
Jackie Chan, the movie star-cum-martial arts wizard, has entered the row, his fists whirring like helicopter blades, to demand the return of the two bronzes. Removed when British and French forces sacked the Old Summer Palace in Beijing 1860, the two sculptures were knocked down to anonymous bidders for €14 million each in a Christie’s sale orchestrated by Saint Laurent’s partner, Pierre Bergé.
With China’s relations with France already chilled by President Sarkozy’s support for Tibet and the Dalai Lama, and with Mr Bergé having declared that the bronzes should be returned only “when China establishes human rights”, Mr Chan’s arrival to accuse France of behaving disgracefully injects a novel tang into the brawl. The row over the cultural relics has turned into the continuation of diplomacy by kung fu.
This newspaper, too, finds itself playing a cameo role in the drama, since Lord Elgin (no, not that one; his son) claims to have been motivated to plunder the Palace of Emperor Qianlong to avenge the torture and murder of a score of Western prisoners: one of these victims was Thomas Bowlby, a correspondent for The Times.
But why China’s fighting talk? The bronze rat and rabbit are part of a group of 12 animal fountainheads from the palace. China has already bought back five of the 12. It fears that buying any more “would give the ‘stolen’ goods a coat of legitimacy”. No, it would not. A rich and proud China should have seized its chance to raise its arm and bid for the sculptures like anyone else.
The Times Blogs
From The Times
February 27, 2009
Jackie Chan comes out fighting for China’s looted sculptures after YSL sale
Charles Bremner, Paris
Paris blog: The YSL Spectacular
Jackie Chan, the action film star, has thrown his weight behind Beijing’s efforts to shame France over the sale of two looted Chinese sculptures that were part of the Yves Saint Laurent collection.
The bronze rat and rabbit, removed when British and French forces sacked the Old Summer Palace in 1860, were sold for ¤14 million (£12.5 million) each to two anonymous bidders last night, despite Chinese objections.
Mr Chan said France had behaved disgracefully in allowing the sale. “They remain looted items, no matter whom they were sold to. Whoever took it out [of China] is himself a thief,” he said . “It was looting yesterday. It is still looting today.”
The Rush Hour star accused Western countries of stealing cultural relics from nations with ancient heritages such as China, Egypt and Cambodia, while insisting they were doing so only to preserve them. He said that he was planning to make a film about the return of some of China’s stolen national treasures, with filming scheduled to start next year.
China, mindful of President Sarkozy’s support of Tibet and the Dalai Lama at the Beijing Olympics, has been eager to highlight the issue. The bronzes were among 12 animal head sculptures that formed a zodiac-themed water clock in the palace of Emperor Qianlong. China has bought back 5 of the 12 but said yesterday that it did not plan to buy any more. “That would give the ‘stolen’ goods a coat of legitimacy,” the Old Summer Palace museum said.
- More on the Yves Saint Lauren artefact sale : February 13, 2009
- Yves Saint Laurent and the Eighth Earl of Elgin : January 22, 2009
- China’s worldwide hunt for artefacts looted from Beijing’s Summer Palace : November 3, 2009
- Is China’s quest to recover looted artefacts from the Summer Palace likely to be successful? : November 22, 2010
- Chinese bidder won’t pay for YSL statues : March 2, 2009
- Yves Saint Lauren, China & the son of Lord Elgin : February 21, 2009
- The perils of art auctions : March 7, 2009
- Plundered Chinese treasures to be sold : November 3, 2008