LOS ANGELES, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- American Chinese collectors on Tuesday urged the Chinese government to take action against Christine's, and called for a boycott of the auctioneer if it insists on auctioning two historic bronze sculptures looted from a Chinese imperial garden.
The American Chinese Collector's Association and the Eastern Cultural Foundation jointly issued an open letter at a press conference here, in an appeal to all Chinese collectors and antique dealers around the world to stop doing business with Christine's.
Christine's is expected to auction the two sculptures, the heads of a rat and a rabbit, in Paris on Wednesday, after a French court earlier rejected an appeal by a group of Chinese lawyers to stop the sale of the looted relics.
"Christine's is planning to put the sculptures on auction in Paris on Feb. 25. However, the heads were taken from Beijing's Old Summer Palace when it was looted by invading French and British forces in 1860 during the Second Opium War," the two groups stated in the open letter.
"Christine's has no rights to auction the two heads, and only the Chinese government has the unarguable rights to own and inherit these looted relics," the letter said.
Dezhao Zhou, head of the American Chinese Collector's Association, said the two sculptures could be worth more than 30 million U.S. dollars in today's arts and antiques market.
"Although they are not the most valuable ones among the great amount of Chinese antiques scattered around the world, they are symbols of China's national shame and the auction house's activities badly hurt the feelings of Chinese people," he said.
Zhou said his association and the Eastern Cultural Foundation urge the Chinese government to deal with the French government over the issue, and do its best to safeguard justice and national pride.
Under UNESCO's Convention on Stolen and Illegally Exported Cultural Objects, any cultural relics looted or lost during wars should be returned without any limitation of the time span.
"If Christine's still continues to take its own course and carry out the irresponsible action, we suggest the Chinese government suspend the business activities of Christine's in China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and we strongly urge all Chinese collectors and antique dealers in China and overseas to stop doing business with Christine's," Zhou said.
A member of Zhou's group even suggested that all Chinese consumers around the world boycott fashion products by Yves Saint Laurent, whose estate decided to sell the looted Chinese relics, part of the private art collection of the late French designer.