BEIJING.- A Chinese art expert revealed today that he offered the highest bid for the bronze heads at the Yves Saint Laurent auction last week and said that he will not pay for them and that he bid on them in the name of the Chinese people. Cai Mingchao, manager of a private gallery named Xinhe in Xiamen (province of Fujian, in southeast China), attended a press conference to confess that it was he who last week offered the highest bid at the auction in Paris ($35 million).
"I must stress that I do not have the money to pay for this," he then said, highlighting that he bid on the work of art "representing all Chinese people" and said that he was conscious that any citizen of that Asian country , "in my place, would have done the same thing". This action, with revenge overtones, leaves the ball in Christie´s court, even though the auction house, when consulted by EFE, said from its office in Hong Kong that for now they are discussing the reaction to the unpaid bid. The auction company also said that their habitual policy is not to deliver the auctioned items without first receiving payment.
The unexpected play in the past, Chinese collectors, private and public, had bought looted works of art, but they paid afterward but this one is private and it had received support from the National Treasures Fund, an NGO with ties to the Chinese Ministry of Culture. Furthermore, it was applauded by a representative from the government, Zhao Qizheng, who said at the press conference that Cai´s bid was a lesson for the rest of the world, including the French.
Zhao, president of the Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), sais that during the weeks prior to the auction in Paris the Chinese people asked themselves if French culture had gone ill by allowing stolen goods to be sold. We honor French culture,, said Zhao, who remembered that in the 19th Century famous authors like Victor Hugo spoke against the cultural plundering that had been going on in China at that time.