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Chinese imperial seal goes for $17m at French auction

By : Xinhua|Updated: 2011-03-28

A Chinese 18th-century white jade seal [Xinhua]

A Chinese imperial jade seal used by Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795) sold for 12.4 million euros ($17.45 million) on Saturday at an auction in southwest France, setting the highest price for seals.

The white jade imperial seal of 9.85-centimeter, with carvings of intertwined dragons on top, was one of a number used by Emperor Qianlong, the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty, and was initially valued at 1.5 million euros ($2.1 million).

French media said the imperial seal was hammered in a Toulouse-based auction house to a Chinese bidder, who refused to give his name.

The previous most-paid seal was also a Chinese imperial jade seal used by Emperor Kangxi (1661-1722), who ruled the longest reign in China and the grandfather of Emperor Qianlong.

A Chinese imperial scroll painting [Xinhua]

Earlier in the day at another auction house in Toulouse, a Chinese imperial scroll painting was hammered for 22.1 million euros ($31 million) also to an anonymous Chinese bidder.

The scroll, the fourth and last of a series, shows the army of the Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) at a military review and the winning bid was the most paid for an Asian artwork at a French auction.

The 24-meter scroll delicately depicts about 9,000 different figures in a grand army review.

Both of the artworks are believed to have been looted from China's Forbidden City (the Chinese imperial palace) in the 1900s after the invasion of China by the Eight-Power Allied Forces grouping aggressor troops from Britain, France, Germany, Russia, the United States, Japan, Italy and Austria, and are among a number of Chinese antiques under hammer at auctions in France on Saturday.

Lost or looted Chinese relics have been sold at international auctions for millions of dollars and their prices have been surging in recent years.