Pinault family returns looted Chinese relics

Updated: 2013-04-27 09:13


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BEIJING - The family of French luxury goods retailer Pinault announced Friday in Beijing that it will donate two pieces of looted Chinese cultural relics back to China.

The relics, sculptures of a bronze rabbit and a bronze rat head, once appeared in the Yuanmingyuan, the Old Summer Palace. They were looted by Anglo-French allied forces during the Second Opium War in 1860.

The two bronze heads were auctioned for 14 million euros (17.92 million US dollars) each in Paris in 2009, which triggered wide international concerns and protests in China.

The Pinault family bought the sculptures from their previous owner and expressed its will to donate them back to China for free.

Pinault Group Chairman and CEO Francois-Henri Pinault is visiting China with French President Francois Hollande from April 25 to 26.

The Chinese side spoke positively of the act, regarding it as an observation of international conventions concerning the protection of cultural heritage, a token of friendship and conducive to bringing more looted Chinese relics back home.

China, along with many countries who lost their cultural relics, is making efforts to bring them back to their home country, which has received a positive response and support from the international community.

So far, five of the 12 bronze animal fountain heads in Yuanmingyuan have returned, but the whereabouts of five others are still unknown.