The GQ article details the mysterious high-profile thefts of Chinese art and antiques from museums in Europe, including prized works once looted from Beijing's Old Summer Palace in 1860 by British and French soldiers. Who is behind the thefts, and is this a rightful repatriation of stolen cultural objects?
“It's almost like there's a fog around it from a criminological perspective,” said Noah Charney, a professor of art history and founder of the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art, to GQ. “It's like another planet, in terms of the way people think about what art is, what authenticity is, what is socially unacceptable to do.”
Yuanming Yuan (Old Summer Palace) was an imperial retreat of palaces and European-style gardens built outside of Beijing in the 18th and 19th centuries by Emperor Qianlong. Designed and engineered by two European Jesuits, Giuseppe Castiglione and Michel Benoist, much of the Old Summer Palace was destroyed and looted by Anglo-French troops during the Second Opium War, thus displacing artifacts that have since appeared in museum collections and at auction.