Sotheby’s auctioned off a collection of items linked to Qing dynasty palaces on Tuesday, and Chinese collectors paid sky high prices to snap them up. That follows Stanley Ho’s purchase last month of a sculpture that had been looted from Beijing’s old Summer Palace. The Macau gambling tycoon paid $8.84 million for a bronze horse’s head–a record for a Qing dynasty sculpture–and announced he was donating it to the Chinese state.
The piece was originally scheduled to be part of Tuesday’s auction, which was criticized for the way it forced rich Chinese collectors to pay for their country’s stolen heritage. But if price is any measure, they didn’t seem to mind spending. The controversy probably helped fuel the sums, which included $5.9 million for an imperial seal, a record for white jade at auction. As Reuters notes, the piece was sold earlier this year in France for about one fourth of what it went for in Hong Kong.