Collectors spent a total of 47.8 million yuan ($7 million) yesterday to get their hands on the last 410 drums and 978 bamboo scrolls that featured in the amazing opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics last summer.
The popular souvenirs went under the hammer at the China Beijing Equity Exchange (CBEX) in a four-hour auction that attracted more than 130 millionaires from across China.
It was the third and final round of the auctions, with the total winning bids for all 1,500 fou, a traditional Chinese drum, and near 1,000 zhujian, ancient-style bamboo scrolls, a staggering 119.1 million yuan.
A resin-outfit, 130-kg fou imprinted with the lucky number 1890 went for 288,000 yuan in the online round, while bids for meter-long scrolls inscribed with Confucius doctrine reached 30,000 yuan each.
The sales are expected to make the Beijing Games an even bigger financial success, with organizers, who will wrap up their duties by June, already declaring an estimated profit of over $16 million.
The brokers were also happy after the auctions, with the CBEX taking a 12-percent higher-than-average commission as the lots were considered "artworks".
The top bid yesterday was from a Guangdong man representing a friend who paid 6.12 million yuan for 90 damaged fou and 778 unscripted scrolls - almost 1,000 times higher than the starting price of 6,500 yuan.
Identifying himself only as Chen, the man said he was fond of the cultural and historic worth of the collection, even if the drums were possibly damaged beyond repair.
"With the 90 fou today and the 20 others bought by my friend in previous rounds, he now has 110, which makes him the man with the most fou in the world," he said.
And the competition to buy the fou was so fierce, even the manufacturer Beijing Geshengong Arts failed to get one.
Wang Qian, the boss of the Beijing-based crafts firm that failed to net a profit after devoting its entire factory to making the 2,040 fou used in the opening ceremony, shook his head yesterday when bidding soared for the drums.
"I wanted to give the drums a good home when they retire from their glorious duties. I had a good plan to showcase them upon their return but it doesn't matter now," said 35-year-old Wang, who added his company would repair some of the damaged drums for collectors.
Wang Jingtao, an overseas Chinese from Singapore who runs a cultural fund in Beijing, also failed in his bid to buy one of the souvenirs, but said he would try and persuade others to donate them to primary schools for overseas Chinese children.
The next hot items up for grabs may be the 2,008 umbrellas imprinted with children's smiles used for the opening ceremony. The move is still awaiting approval from the organizers.
Source: China Daily