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Association suspends licence of auctioneer
By Wang Shanshan (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-25 05:50

The auctioneer hosting the inaugural sales of a Chinese company, which the London-based Christie's "has agreed to lend its name to," had his licence confiscated by the Chinese Association of Auctioneers last week.

Liu Xinhui, one of the veteran auctioneers in the Chinese mainland who hosted the company's sales of fine modern and contemporary Chinese paintings on November 3, disputed the decision to take away his licence.

"The association said that I hosted an auction for a company that was not an auction house," Liu told China Daily. "The claim was not based on facts, and I will use the laws to protect my rights."

Beijing-based Forever International Auction Co Ltd has been controversial in Beijing's art circle because of the company's connections with Christie's.

"We license Forever to use Christie's logos and other Christie's trademarks, and get a fee in return," said Edward Dolman, chief executive officer of Christie's International, prior to Forever's sales of Chinese art in Beijing.

The decision was made because Forever was not registered with the Chinese Association of Auctioneers, and any Chinese auctioneers who work for it will possibly have their licences cancelled.

"The companies are taking undue advantages of the loopholes in Chinese laws," said an official with China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage, who declined to give his name.

According to Article 55 of the amended Chinese Cultural Heritage Protection Law, no joint ventures or companies of sole foreign proprietorship involved in the auction of Chinese cultural heritage items should be set up in the Chinese mainland.

"Christie's, supporting this vision and recognizing the great potential of the market in China, has agreed to lend its name to this exciting event," said Christie's CEO Dolman.

However, "the State Administration of Cultural Heritage approved the establishment of Forever, but there should never be a Forever/Christie's," said the Chinese official.

(China Daily 11/25/2005 page2)

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