March 19, 2009 / 5:55 AM / 10 years ago

Beijing ceremony props drum up $17.42 million at auction

BEIJING (Reuters) - The auction of 1,500 drums and 978 bamboo scrolls used at the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony last year has netted 119 million yuan ($17.42 million), local media reported on Thursday.

Precisely 2,008 drummers beat the traditional “fou” drums at the widely acclaimed ceremony to kick off the Games, while the meter-long scrolls were held by scholars chanting Confucian Analects.

The third and final round of the auction in Beijing on Wednesday sold the last 410 drums at an average price of 129,300 yuan ($18,930) and the 200 scripted scrolls fetched 6.38 million yuan, China Daily reported.

About 130 collectors from all over China shelled out 47.8 million yuan ($7 million) on Wednesday, the paper said. One bidder, identified just as Chen, spent 6.12 million yuan on 90 damaged drums and the remaining 778 unscripted scrolls.

The auctioneers will take a 12 percent commission but the remaining cash will boost the coffers of the Beijing organizing committee (BOCOG), which said earlier this month it had made a profit of some $16 million from the Games.

The sales are not over yet with the 2,008 umbrellas imprinted with children’s smiles used at the opening ceremony expected to go under the hammer next.

The spectacular August 8 opening ceremony at the Bird’s Nest stadium, directed by Chinese auteur Zhang Yimou, won rave reviews and ushered in 16 days of sporting competition at the first Olympics held in China.

Reporting by Liu Zhen, editing by N.Ananthanarayanan

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