Looted artefacts returned to China

3rd Jul 2013

China has captured the attention of the global media as the destination of choice for American whistleblower Edward Snowden.

But the East Asia country will be in the headlines for cultural rather than political reasons when two historical artefacts looted from Beijing go back on display in the city after more than 150 years, giving tourists on tailor-made tours the opportunity to see them.

The bronze rabbit and rat heads - looted from Beijing's Old Summer Palace after the Second Opium War in 1860 - will be exhibited in their new home at the National Museum of China.

The Chinese government tried to prevent them from being sold in 2009. The auction ended in controversy when a Chinese man made a winning bid but refused to pay as a "patriotic act".

The statues, which came up for sale again following the death of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, were bought by Francois Pinault and his family, which owns French luxury group Kering, and donated to China.

The Pinault family said it went to "great efforts to retrieve these two significant treasures" and was delighted to return them to "their rightful home".

Kering's brands - which include Saint Laurent, Gucci and Alexander McQueen - are popular in China's booming luxury market.

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