France returns looted antiquities to China

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PARIS - The Musee Guimet has discreetly returned four solid gold antiquities that were received as donation by billionaire luxury tycoon François Pinault. The objects were looted from China and bought by unaware Pinault which personally handed over the four 2,000-year old solid gold birds of prey heads to the Chinese embassy in Paris.
Mr Pinault, the owner of luxury groups Gucci and Saint Laurent among others, had donated the 7th century BC items to the Paris museum in 2000 but it later transpired they were looted in 1992 from the tomb of a noble of the Zhou dynasty in Gansu province.
The gold sculptures, said to be worth €1 million (£710,000), were not easy to repatriate as, according to French law, gifts to museum are considered irrevocable. In this case the French authorities "retroactively annulled" the gifts and returned them to the donors.
Chinese authorities had requested the return of the artifacts 10 years ago to no avail, but continued to discreetly demand their restitution via diplomatic channels.