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Looted seal makes millions at auction

AN antique seal, believed to have been looted from China, fetched 1.68 million euros (US$2.24 million) at an auction, the China News Service reported.

The buyer is a Chinese who declined to be named.

The report cited other media as saying the buyer bought the relic for a French collector.

The jade Qianlong (1736-1795) era seal was part of a collection of antiques belonging to the French General de Vassoigne which the Beaussant Lefevre auctioned yesterday afternoon in Paris.

It is believed to have been looted from China's Yuanmingyuan, the Old Summer Palace, by Anglo-French forces during the Second Opium War in 1860. The general led the French troops in the attack.

Another 400 relics from China, Japan and other Asian countries went under the hammer.

The auction has attracted a great deal of criticism from Chinese.

Scholars criticized the auctioneer for using looted items to attract publicity for the auction and raise prices.

Yuanmingyuan officials said the seal should be returned to China.

The China News Service report cited industry insiders as saying royal seals are not rare at auctions. More than 10 seals go under the hammer every year and they are now fetching more money.

A 17th Century seal from China was sold for 5.6 million euros at an auction last June in France.


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