Sale of looted Chinese bronzes given go-ahead

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A Paris judge yesterday gave the go-ahead to the controversial sale of two Chinese bronzes looted more than a century ago by British and French troops and now part of the collection amassed by the late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.

The decision means that the auction planned for Wednesday morning at Christie's in Paris can proceed and the two Ching dynasty sculptures - a rabbit and a rat's head - are expected to fetch between €8m and €10m ($12.7m, £8.8m).

The queues were forming outside the auction house last night for what is being described in the French press as "the sale of the century" with some 700 pieces of art, glassware and sculpture in the collection.

But the ruling will be a blow to the latest attempt by Chinese authorities to stop the sale of historical -artefacts to private -collections. Though the action was brought by a French -archeologist Bernard Gomez, also head of the Association for the Protection of Chinese art in Europe, it received the tacit support of authorities.

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