Chinese bronze fountainheads to be returned by Francois-Henri Pinault

French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault has decided to return two Chinese fountainheads that appeared in a Christie's auction.

Chinese fountainheads auction pinault
These replicas of the fountainheads are on display at Beijing's Old Summer Palace, with each of the 12 representing a different character from the Chinese zodiac

The fountainheads were among the treasures stolen from Beijing during the second opium war in 1860. China has been protesting the sale of these items ever since, with two jade antiques pulled from Bonhams' auction in November 2012 as a result.

The two fountainheads were originally offered by late fashion icon Yves Saint-Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge, and sold for $20m. However, a Chinese collector refused to pay the sum of his winning bid and they were then purchased by Pinault's family.

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