The director of the National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei was released on NT$100,000 (US$3,380) bail on Monday after being questioned by Taipei prosecutors about his handling of a valuable painting donated by China in 2010.
Prosecutors suspect Tseng Kun-ti (曾坤地) kept the painting for himself rather than display it publicly, but Tseng told them that Chinese authorities gave him the painting, valued at NT$30 million, for his own collection and did not “designate the painting to any specific organization.”
Tseng told prosecutors he did not take the painting home and his actions therefore did not constitute breaking the law, but -prosecutors expressed reservations over his explanation.
Tseng did not answer calls yesterday after his release and the memorial hall said he took the day off.
Investigators were tipped off about the painting’s whereabouts before the Lunar New Year break, though it was not clear why the tip came so long after Tseng took possession of the painting.
According to prosecutors, Tseng visited China in June 2010 in his capacity as director of the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to accept the painting at a ceremony in Beijing on June 19.
The painting was the brainchild of a prominent calligraphy and painting academy in China, which invited Chinese painters to create the work, called Matsu protects Chinese, to show its solidarity with Taiwan after Typhoon Morakot battered southern Taiwan in August 2009.
However, Tseng did not house the painting at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, instead taking it with him to the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall when he was transferred there.
Prosecutors recently found the painting in Tseng’s office after a search. Among the materials used to compose the painting were gold and blood taken from the tips of artists’ tongues to give it added value. It was the collective creation of Chinese artists such as Dong Benyi (董本義) and Dong Keling (董科靈) over a period of a year.