Sunday, February 07, 2010

Smash it up until there is nothing left: New found interest in antiques in China

Reactionaries? Make That ‘Collectors’
Published: February 3, 2010
The New York Times

CONTESTANT No. 3, a portly man in suspenders named Cui Xiaosong, clutched a golden mallet and gulped like an executioner having second thoughts. As a guest on China’s wildly popular antiques reality show “Collection World,” Mr. Cui knew he might have to get violent before the next commercial break. The victim? A delicately painted vase he had brought to the show, which he believed to be from the Qing dynasty and worth about $30,000.

“If it’s a fake, will you smash it?” asked the program’s white-gloved host, Wang Gang, as Mr. Cui faced the studio audience and three guest judges.

Mr. Cui nodded. The audience quieted down and Mr. Wang used the final minute to impart a bit of wisdom about collecting antiques in modern-day China: “Just as China opened up, so too is collecting about opening the mind to understand the outside world.”

It was hard to tell whether Mr. Cui was listening, but he certainly heard the host announce the judges’ verdict: “It’s a modern reproduction!”

Mr. Cui winced as he swung the mallet, shattering the vase — and with it his dreams of the wealth it might have brought at auction. Cue the instant replay.

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