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Refuting rumors, Chinese collector announces plans to retrieve 21-million-euro imperial seal in person

(People's Daily Online)    15:07, January 03, 2017


Du Shengbo, a merchant and collector from Wenzhou, Zhejiang province became the new owner of an 18th-century Chinese imperial seal on Dec. 14, 2016. The seal was auctioned off for a record-setting 21 million euros (about $22 million) in Paris, more than 20 times its original estimate.

However, since the auction, there have been rumors that Du hasn’t paid for the seal, and has even fallen out of contact with the auction house. According a report by Qianjiang Evening News, Du is currently applying for a visa to France to pick up the seal in person after the New Year holiday.

Du won the seal remotely after a furious bidding battle between potential buyers. The seal, made from red and beige nephrite jade, was used by Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty, the second longest-serving emperor in Chinese history. Emperor Qianlong’s reign, from 1736 to 1795, was only one year shorter than that of his grandfather, Emperor Kangxi.

The auction price set a new world record, even earning skepticism from some parties, who wondered whether the number might be inflated. Du responded that he loves the jade seal with all his heart and he may donate it to his country under the right conditions.

The rumor that Du had not yet paid for the seal originated in an article penned by a Chinese collector surnamed Liu on Dec. 30. In the article, Liu stated that Du had cut off contact three days after the auction, and Liu himself had planned to buy the seal for 5 million euros. The incident has stained the image of Chinese people in overseas markets, Liu argued, and made him question how to participate in auctions in the future.

Liu’s article has drawn much attention online. According to Du, he plans to retrieve the seal from France after the New Year holiday. The negative influence of the rumor has created an extra impetus for him to claim the seal quickly, and he is currently in the process of applying for a French visa.

"One needs time to prepare the large sum of 160 million RMB. The Christmas and New Year holidays make it difficult to get things done immediately," said Du.

Du pointed out that it normally takes at least one month to pay for an item purchased through auction after the bid is accepted. He also said that he has no financial difficulties and is willing to show a payment voucher.

"The collector, Liu, is no acquaintance of mine and has never contacted me," Du said. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Du Mingming, Bianji)

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