September 27th, 2011, 07:50 AM
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património Português para venda
Cultural Bureau probes old stone sale
The Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) is investigating the historical value of the two stones of the former Macau prison’s façade that were put on sale by a local resident. It is not clear yet if the stones will be acquired by the government.
The case was brought to public light by the Portuguese news agency Lusa earlier this month. A civil servant surnamed Fok is trying to sell two stones carved with the Portuguese coat of arms for HKD 300,000.
Fok has already sent letters to casinos he thought might be interested in acquiring the stones but received no reply so far. He also welcomes offers from art collectors and even from the government. However he made it clear that he would not sell the stones to the Administration for less than MOP 100,000.
To donate the pieces to a museum is at the bottom of Fok’s list. He believes museums will “simply put them in a warehouse because the stones are from the colonial administration”. In addition, he admitted he wants to receive some money from the business.
“The IC expresses concern over the incident and will continue to follow it up,” a spokesperson told Macau Daily Times.
The bureau is currently studying the details of the stones and if they are actually from the old prison, before making any move.
“The IC decides on the acquisition of cultural relics according to the legitimacy of the source, the museum board’s views, the collection’s value, rationality of prices and other conditions,” they added.
“Moreover, we encourage enthusiasts to donate generously in order to protect relics that contain historic meaning, cultural value or Macau characteristics, in cooperation with the government,” said the statement.
Fok told Lusa that the Macau Government had not yet approached him. “I know I can donate it [the stones] to a museum, but first I will try to sell it,” he said, adding that he is facing problems of space to keep the stones.
The seller is expecting to trade the stones by the end of next month. If he does not get any bids from private collectors, he will approach the government eventually.
One of the stones is carved with the Portuguese coat of arms and another is inscribed with the date of the prison opening, in 1912. The former Macau prison was built between 1906 and 1910.
Fok added he is also aware there is a third stone with the inscription ‘Public Prison’, but does not know its whereabouts. The seller said he bought the two stones four years ago for a “confidential figure” from a construction site in Taipa.