Long piece about various Chinese interests trying to repatriate Chinese art looted through the years, including a number of high profile museum heists suspected of being Chinese backed. I’m expecting at some point there will be a movie based on these stories, likely including the billionaire Huang Nubo.
But the thefts that were made public bear striking similarities. The criminals are careful and professional. They often seem to be working from a shopping list—and appear content to leave behind high-value objects that aren’t on it. […]
Their desires adhere to a nationalistic logic: The closer an object’s connection to China’s ignominious defeats, the more significant its return. In recent years, vases, bronzeware, and a host of other items from the Old Summer Palace have all sold for millions. Behind these purchases is almost always a well-connected Chinese billionaire eager to demonstrate China’s modern resurgence on the world stage. […]
Huang Nubo has a similarly patriotic interest in China’s art. Tall and broad-shouldered, with a ruddy complexion and close-set eyes, he’s the kind of billionaire who makes other billionaires jealous: He’s an accomplished adventurer, one of the few people alive to have visited both the North and South Poles and summited the world’s seven tallest peaks (he’s topped Everest three times). When I met him at his office in Beijing, he had just returned from an expedition in western China, where he’d reached the top of the world’s sixth-tallest mountain.”