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China to sue over Yves Saint Laurent auction

Latest update : 2009-01-17

Chinese lawyers will take aim at Christie's in a bid to stop the auction giant from selling two animal sculptures included in the art collection of the late Yves Saint Laurent. They say the items were stolen from the Beijing summer palace in 1860.

AFP - Chinese lawyers will sue auction giant Christie's over the sale of relics owned by the late Yves Saint Laurent which they say were stolen from a looted Beijing palace, state press said Saturday.

The lawyers are hoping that French courts will stop the auction house from selling two bronze animal heads at a February sale in Paris and order the return of the relics to China, the Beijing Times reported.

"The lawsuit will be placed before a French court in accordance with international law," Liu Yang, one of 67 Chinese lawyers working on the case, told the paper.

"We are demanding that the auction house stop the sale and order the owner of the stolen items to return them."

The relics currently belong to the Yves Saint Laurent Foundation and were being put up for auction by the late fashion magnate's partner Pierre Berge, the paper said.

The two bronze animal heads once adorned the Old Summer Palace, or Yuanmingyuan, and were stolen when Western armies burnt the palace down during the second Opium War in 1860.

When announcing the auction last year, Christie’s reportedly estimated the two bronzes were worth up to 28.6 million dollars.

The bronzes were once part of a fountain that displayed the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. Five of the bronze animal heads have already been returned to China, while the whereabouts of five others is unknown, the paper said.

Date created : 2009-01-17

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