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CHINa - FRANCE

Antique Chinese seal fetches 21 million euros at Paris auction

A handout picture of the seal taken in November 2016 and released on 14 December  2016 by Pierre Bergé and Associes
A handout picture of the seal taken in November 2016 and released on 14 December 2016 by Pierre Bergé and Associes AFP

An 18th-century Chinese imperial seal sold for 21 million euros - more than 20 times its estimated price - at auction in Paris on Wednesday.

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The extremely rare seal in red and beige nephrite jade comes from the Qianlong period (1736-1795).

It is decoarated with stylised dragons, the symbol of imperial authorituy and Emperor Qianlong's masculine power, according to the Drouot auction house.

After a bidding battle between would-be buyers by telephone and in the saleroom, it went to an unnamed Chinese collector.

Under Qianlong, who is regarded as China's longest-serving emperor having held power unofficially long after he officially retired, the empire's population rose to 400 million, although it fell into decline by the end.

The Qing dynasty, which came from the Manchu minority from Manchuria in northern China, lasted until 1912.

The seal was acquired by a young French naval doctor in China in the late 19th century and has remained in his family since.

According to Drouot, the officer visited China many times and built an impressive collection through his "taste, culture and the friendships he was able to build up over the years".

Two paintings from the same collection by the Japanese master Katsushika Hokusai, 36 Views of Mount Fuji and Big wave at Kanagawa, were also up for auctiuon with estimates of 30,000 euros.

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