A pair of knockers of Yuanmingyuan, an imperial summer resort sacked and destroyed in 1860 by British and French forces, were auctioned on Sunday despite the opposition of experts.
The knockers made in silver were knocked down by Beijing Rongbao Auction Ltd. at the price of 1.9 million yuan (256,441 U.S. dollars)
Experts said the knockers were rare since they were made for the royal family in the 1700s in the design of a taotei, a mythical ferocious animal, which was popular in the Western Zhou Dynasty (1100 BC-771 BC).
An expert from the Yuanmingyuan Society said the society objected the auction of Yuanmingyuan antiques that had been taken away to foreign countries, believing it would hinder efforts to bring the antiques back to the imperial garden.
Zong Tianliang, spokesman of the administration office of Yuanmingyuan, said that "the knockers were of historic value and it is good for them to return to where they were, instead of putting them under the hammer."
However, the company said the auction was approved by authorities and they had not received official objections from the administration office of Yuanmingyuan.
Located in northwest Beijing, construction on Yuanmingyuan began in 1709 and was finished in 1744. It was burned down by British and French troops in 1860. It was sacked and burned down again, after a partial restoration, in 1900 when the Eight-Power Allied Forces - - troops sent by Britain, the United States, Germany, France, Tsarist Russia, Japan, Italy and Austria -- occupied Beijing.