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Beijing Authorities Investigate Alleged Theft of Tiananmen Paintings

updated: 2011-08-26

Xinhua, August 25, 2011  
Beijing authorities said Wednesday they have started an investigation following anonymous reports saying eight precious paintings had been stolen from the Tiananmen rostrum in the heart of the Chinese capital.
Beijing's local media reported earlier on Wednesday that authorities had received anonymous reports about the thefts of eight painting and calligraphic works from seven renowned Chinese artists.
The artists reportedly donated the works to Tiananmen in the 1990s.
"We are examining our collections to verify if every item is in place," a spokesman with the Tiananmen administrative committee said in an interview with Xinhua late Wednesday night.
He said the committee had begun scrutinizing its collections last year, in an effort to set up an electronic file for better management.
The committee has strict rules to ensure the safety of all its artworks. "All the artworks are kept in special cabinets and the keys to these cabinets are not allowed to be taken out of the storeroom," the spokesman said.
Receipts, lendings and deposits of Tiananmen art collections are strictly registered by the committee's staff and verified by their supervisors, he said.
The storeroom is generally off-limits to outsiders and visitors have to get approval from the head of the committee and have to be accompanied by committee staff, he said. "Visitors are also banned from opening the cabinets, touching or taking photos of the artworks.”
In May, Beijing police seized a man who was suspected to have stolen several items from the Forbidden City, in a rare theft at  heavily-guarded ancient imperial palace museum of China.

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