Beijing, 8 August 2011, Art Media Agency (AMA).
The rumours started circulating a few days ago – the Palace Museum of the Forbidden City is said to have sold some of its priceless antiques at substantial a profit. It is alleged that five letters dating from the Song dynasty (960-1279) were sold.
The cultural heritage authorities of Beijing said on Saturday that the Palace Museum did not buy the letters in question at the 1997 auction, nor sell them in 2005. Nevertheless, media reports seem to indicate that this is not true. The law concerning Chinese cultural relics stipulates that museums are not allowed to sell their collection. However, the book Eighty Years of the Palace Museum, which was released by the museum itself, states: “The Palace Museum bought five letters of the Song Dynasty from the Beijing Hanhai Auction Co Ltd on June 18, 2007.”
According to Gegu Riji, the newspaper of Pei Guanghui, an independent antique expert, the Palace Museum acquired the letters for CNY6.82 million in 1997 and sold them for CNY22.9 million in 2009. Pei Guanghui is reported to have obtained this information from friends who work at the museum and also conducted his own investigation into the matter.
These new allegations once again raise doubts about the trustworthiness of the Palace Museum. The institution was recently accused of hiding the damage to a porcelain piece dating from the Song Dynasty. It has also been rumoured that the Palace Museum would like to transform the Jianfu Palace into a private club.
Beijing, 5 August 2011, Art Media Agency (AMA).
According to the website Artclair, a celadon porcelain plate dating from the Song Dynasty (960-1279), featured in the Forbidden City’s prestigious collections, was broken by a researcher. The incident happened on 4 July and was revealed by an Internet user. It sparked controversy and forced the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Heritage Administration to intervene.
The incident happened during a routine conservation study. The plate is an exceptionally rare piece and according to ArtClair, only a hundred of these objects still exist. The piece is incredibly valuable, which has only aggravated the controversy.
The Chinese museum admitted that the plate had been broken in a press release in July and said it was due to the “careless mistake of a researcher.” The controversy forced the Ministry to decide what sanctions to take. Some Internet users say that the administration is trying to minimise the case.
Beijing, 12 May 2011, Art Media Agency (AMA).
According to the Guardian, a suspect has been arrested for the theft of seven objects from the Forbidden City.
On Monday morning, guards saw a suspect fleeing the scene at the Palace of Abstinence, one of the buildings in the Forbidden City, but were unable to apprehend him. After meticulously searching the museum, it was discovered that seven precious mirrored compacts and purses were missing from the travelling exhibition of the Liang Yi Museum, a private museum in Hong Kong.
After the Chinese media announced that the Chinese police had arrested a suspect, the story was picked up by the Guardian. It seems that a man named Shi Bokui was arrested in a cybercafé on Wednesday night and admitted to the crime. The China Daily has stated that the stolen seven objects were found but provided no further information.
The police’s rapid reaction can be attributed to the Chinese authorities’ embarrassment. Officials feel that the Forbidden City has lost face, as the Guardian’s art critic and historian in Beijing, Karen Smith, explained. There have been no thefts from the historic site in twenty years. The associate director of the museum, Ma Jige, bowed to the museum curator Liang Yi and presented his apologies.