Jackie's reaction on weibo:
I was busy with arrangements for disaster relief work, when all of a sudden a lot of friends phoned or sent a text message this morning to tell me that the Pinault family from France said they would return the Rabbit and Rat to China! I cried on the spot three times, this is really a happy thing during these days of sadness! Whether or not CZ12 can take credit for it, I will take it, ha ha! I sincerely hope that each country can have their displaced national treasures returned!
A rat's head and a rabbit's head which were looted from the Summer Palace in Beijing in 1860 will be returned to China by its current French owner, the owner's representative announced today in Beijing.
During a meeting with State Culture Relics Bureau officials, French PPR Group CEO Francois-Henri Pinault said on behalf of his family, he will donate the two bronze relics to Chinese government.
Pinault expects to return the relics in August or September, while the Chinese officials hope they can be sent back to their home country in July.
"The rat's head and a rabbit's head will be collected by the National Museum," said Song Xinchao, vice director of the State Culture Relics Bureau. He expressed gratitude to Pinault and his family.
The plundered pieces, part of a clepsydra or water clock, are considered Chinese national treasures and China wants them back. The issue of stolen antiquities is highly charged. The heads are among 12 zodiac animal heads that adorned the elaborate timekeeping device.
They were designed by the Italian Jesuit missionary Giuseppe Castiglione for the Emperor Qianlong in the mid-18th century. The Summer Palace was looted by British and French troops in 1860. The heads belonged to several European collections before they were acquired by French businessman Pierre Bergé and the late Yves Saint Laurent in the 1990s.
The Pinault family purchased the rat's head and a rabbit's head from their previous owner in 2009 after an auction failed.