Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What Poly Auction is doing with all this money...

Poly Auction, one of the world's largest auction houses with close ties to the People's Liberation Army, is reported to have made over 42108000 RMB in their Spring 2008 auction, selling only 117 lots. Sold lots included works by Zhang Xiaogang, Lin Jian, Liu Ye, Wu Hao, Li Shan, among many others discussed in the course. 

So, what is Poly Auction doing with all of this revenue? They are putting large sums of it towards collecting ancient Chinese artifacts that were (according to Poly auction's website) "robbed out of China by western powers." In a recent case, 2 bronze statues were put up for auction at Sotheby's by Pierre Berge, the partner of Yves Saint Laurent, and sold to a Chinese man named Cai Mingchao for $18 million USD. As it turns out, Cai had no real intention of paying the hefty sum. Instead, he declared his bid an intentional disruption of the transaction and a feat of nationalistic fervor. He describes himself as a "consultant for a non-governmental group that seeks to bring looted artifacts back to China," and said he had "acted out of patriotic duty." According to some, this action was most likely encouraged by the Peoples Liberation Army and Poly Auction. Perhaps this is the "non- governmental agency" he is referring to. 
What is more interesting is that Berges has stated that he offered to sell the PLA and Poly Auction the statues for a severely discounted rate before the auction was set to take place, but the Chinese government refused, stating that the statues were too expensive. 
As of right now, Poly Auction and Poly Art (Poly Auction's museum) have collected many artifacts which are on display. Many of these have been purchased with the money of extremely wealthy Chinese business men, such as Stanley Ho (who, according to Forbes, is the 104th richest person in the world) in combination with the revenues made from the mass selling of contemporary chinese art. With 42108000 RMB made in just one season, it is a wonder that they refused to buy the statues at the price Berge's offered. I'm sure there is much more to this story, so if anyone has any information pass it along!


1 comment:

Dream Bird said...

Yes, I would also like to know what the name of the "group that seeks to bring looted artifacts back to China" is -- any idea? And whatever happened to Cai? Nothing?