Macao tycoon donates looted relic

By Chen Xi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/13 20:23:40

Pansy Ho Chiu-king (left), the daughter of Macao-based tycoon and collector Stanley Ho Hung-sun, shakes hands with Chinese Minister of Culture and Tourism Luo Shugang in front of the horse head at a ceremony to welcome the statue back, in Beijing on Wednesday. Photo: Li Hao/GT

A picture of the horse head. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Beijing on Wednesday welcomed the long-lost bronze horse-head treasure that Macao-based tycoon and collector  Stanley Ho Hung-sun donated to the Chinese National Cultural Heritage Administration (NCHA) as a gift for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the 20th anniversary of Macao's return to the motherland. 

The relic was stolen with other 11 zodiac bronze statues of the Zodiac Fountain in the Old Summer Palace by invading forces when Anglo-French Alliance Forces razed the palace to the ground in 1860. 

Ho bought the relic for HK$69.1 million ($8.84 million) in a sale brokered by Sotheby's Hong Kong in September 2007, and had been kept in Macao for 12 years. 

"The statue conveyed the spirit of patriotism and witnessed the successful practice of 'one country, two systems' principle in Macao," said Pansy Ho Chiu-king, the daughter of Stanley Ho, at the ceremony. 

She noted that the relic is a grand gift of the Ho family in this significant year, and contains sincere wishes and blessings from residents in Hong Kong and Macao to the motherland.

"Cultural relics lost overseas are an inseparable part of the Chinese cultural heritage, and patriotic compatriots from Hong Kong and Macao have played an important role in saving lost cultural relics over the past 70 years. Many of them have made tremendous contributions to retrieving lost looted cultural relics," said Liu Yuzhu, head of NCHA, at the ceremony.

The statue will be displayed with the six other bronze statues, including those of the ox, monkey, tiger, pig, rat and rabbit in the long-lost Chinese cultural relic exhibit to celebrate the 70th anniversary of PRC's founding at the National Museum of China until November 27. 

A picture of the horse head. Photo: Li Hao/GT

The whereabouts of the rest of the heads, including those of the dog, rooster, dragon and snake remain unknown, said Guan Qiang, deputy director of the NCHA, told the Global Times in a group interview on Wednesday. 

"I felt very excited to see the bronze horse-head statue during my journey to Beijing. My friend and I were going to leave, but we decided to stay longer, knowing the cultural relics will be displayed today," Zhang Mingjie, a 21-year-old man living in Northeast China's Liaoning Province, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"I was overwhelmed with joy while listening to the speech at the donation ceremony and saw the bronze horse-head statue. I believe the rest of the five statues will soon return to the motherland, and I am looking forward to the exhibit of the reunion of the 12 zodiac statues," said Zhang Zexin, a 68-year-old man from Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province.

Stanley Ho donated the pig head in 2003.

"I feel honored to play a role in helping save lost (Chinese) cultural relics from overseas," Stanley Ho said in 2007 when he bought the horse head, according to media reports.

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