Page last updated at 22:53 GMT, Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Chinese heads sold at YSL auction

A bronze rabbit's head is auctioned in Paris, 25 February 2009
China had urged Christie's to halt the auction of the Qing dynasty sculptures

Two 18th-Century statues claimed by China have been sold at the Paris auction of late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent's collection.

The two bronze sculptures of a rabbit and a rat, looted from Beijing's Old Summer Palace in 1860, sold for a total of more than 31m euros (28m, $39m).

A court in Paris rejected a Chinese appeal to have the sale blocked.

Christie's said the three-day auction raised 373.5m euros, a record for a private collection.

Yves Saint Laurent died of cancer aged 71 in June last year.

A large proportion of the proceeds are to go to a foundation for Aids research.

Telephone bidders

Christie's organised the sale of the collection, which belonged to Mr Saint Laurent and his former partner, Pierre Berge.

A number of records were also set for individual sales, including seven on the first round of bidding on Monday evening.

Speaking at the Grand Palais where the sale was held, Mr Berge said late on Wednesday that he was "very happy".

"I am certain that all those who acquired these works of art will cherish them," he said.

The two Chinese statues were sold to unidentified telephone bidders.

The sale provided a boost for the art world, which had been concerned that the global economic crisis would dampen interest in the sale, correspondents say.

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