London council sells Chinese antiques for millions

London council sells Chinese antiques for millions

HONG KONG - A south London council raised millions of pounds Wednesday after controversially selling Chinese antique ceramic items at a Christie's auction in Hong Kong.

The collection, including vases, bowls and boxes, fetched a total of HK$102.4 million (S$17 million, US$13.2 million) for Croydon Council - with a blue and white Ming dynasty moonflask the most expensive item at HK$28.1 million.

The 24 items, seven of which were left unsold, had been on public display after being purchased from a local businessman in the 1960s.

Their auction was opposed by Britain's Museums Association which described it as a "breach of the code of ethics".

The council resigned from the Museums Association, which in turn barred Croydon from future membership.

A legal challenge to the auction by a Croydon community association was withdrawn earlier this month after they fell short of the 20,000 pounds (US$32,366) needed to cover legal costs.

Park Sung-Hee, a spokeswoman for Christie's, told AFP the proceeds would be used to improve the borough's cultural amenities.

Among the projects are the renovation of Fairfield Halls, a local arts centre frequently used for BBC recordings.

"The collection was offered for sale with proceeds to be invested in Croydon's cultural infrastructure, including securing the future of the Fairfield Halls," the spokeswoman said.

"The council feels these are exceptional circumstances due to the costs of upgrading security and the high insurance."

Some 200 remaining pieces of the collection are still on show at a gallery in Croydon Clocktower.

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