An as yet unidentified Chinese government official has roundly condemned the auction of a Qing Dynasty seal, which took place in Paris on December 17, the Beijing News has reported.
The official from the state administration of cultural heritage expressed the opinion that the Qianlong period (1736-1795) seal, an artefact of enormous cultural importance as well as financial worth, had been removed from China illegally.
"The government reserves the right to reclaim any artefacts confirmed to belong to China and hopes foreign organisations involved comply with international conventions," the newspaper states the official as saying.
The seal sold for $1.4m, despite serious threats of legal action alleging theft. It measures just two cm in height and 4.5 cm in length, and was offered from the private collection of a French family who have owned it since the 19th century.
During the late 19th and early 20th century, China was subject to imperial conquest from Europe, including from France during 1860's second opium war. Many treasures that now reside in private collections are believed to have been looted during this intensive period of colonisation.
The situation serves to underline the importance of provenance when investing in antiques.
All our items at Paul Fraser Collectibles have impeccable provenance and a lifetime guarantee of authenticity. The importance of buying from a reputable dealer who can offer such safeguards cannot be understated.