Contested heads

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 October, 2009, 12:00am

A museum with the world's largest array of Chinese art has turned down two bronze heads from a French collector.

Taiwan's National Palace Museum was offered two bronze heads by Frenchman Pierre Berge. The museum director said they could not accept 'disputed artefacts'.

Berge said the museum did not want to cause trouble with mainland China.


The bronze heads are of a rabbit and a rat. They were made by Jesuits for the Chinese emperor. The bronze heads were looted from Beijing's Summer Palace. It was attacked by British and French forces 150 years ago. They later came into the control of French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. The heads were sold at an auction in March for HK$178.9 million. A Chinese bidder won but later refused to pay. The mainland says they should be returned to China.

The heads remain at the auction house.