The Chinese art of elegant bribery
July 6, 2011 7:06 AM   Subscribe

Elegant bribery --- The role of Art in Chinese corruption (via MR).
posted by bonehead (7 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This gives new meaning to those situations when you hear an "expert" on Antiques Roadshow pronounce that some Chinese piece is a "fake". Next, we'll see this dilemma tackled in a Simpsons episode.
posted by Sparkticus at 7:25 AM on July 6, 2011

Third, elegant bribery is much harder to trace and prosecute by the police than the other kinds of corruption, mainly because the corruption process of such kind is incredibly discreet. There are no receipts and records of transactions for any of these antiques. In addition, the procedures ensure that the bribing money is whitened. Moreover, there is an open secret that gives “elegant bribery” a competitive edge over other forms of bribery: the treasures do not have to be real.

Meh. It was no less artistic and elegant for Hillary Clinton to trade in cattle futures.
posted by three blind mice at 7:25 AM on July 6, 2011

Fascinating. If you buy the article's thesis, you would almost need a non-Chinese expert on Chinese art who had never done any valuation in order to get a trustworthy valuation and identification of a given piece of Chinese art. Otherwise, your appraiser's valuation might reflect complicity with a bribe, leaving you with no way to tell whether the appraisal is sky-high or bargain-basement. I guess it would be safest to assume the piece was overvalued, which would (surely!) decrease the price of Chinese art on the international market.
posted by radicalawyer at 7:37 AM on July 6, 2011

the corruption process of such kind is incredibly discreet.

There may be no records of the transactions, but given the number of people involved in them overall (forgers, buyers, sellers, auction houses, galleries, experts, etc.) there sure is a lot of room for people who could rat the process out. Which is not to say I don't believe the process goes on as described, just that there's a limited amount of secrecy to be had in a process that touches that many people.
posted by immlass at 7:42 AM on July 6, 2011

I'm actually disappointed that the elegant part of the bribery is merely a vehicle for moving cash. There's something actually kind of charming about needing to bribe someone with a real piece of art.
posted by fatbird at 9:07 AM on July 6, 2011

This reminds me a little of The Man in the High Tower, except without the Nazis, the Kempeitai, the Abwehr, and the wholesale occupation of the US west coast.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:50 AM on July 6, 2011

It sounds like a Chinese money laundry...
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:58 PM on July 6, 2011

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