Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Classified Sites

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Chinese incense burner returned to Harvard museum 35 years after it disappeared

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - An 18th-century Chinese incense burner was returned to Harvard on Tuesday, 35 years after it disappeared from a university art museum.

Ernest Dane, a businessman and art collector who graduated from Harvard University in 1892, and his wife, Helen Pratt Dane, donated the Qing Dynasty jade censer to the Fogg Museum in 1942.

In 1979, after the museum opened a small exhibition featuring a selection of jades the Danes had donated, museum officials discovered the censer was missing from its display.

They contacted law enforcement authorities, but the censer wasn't found until 2009, when Sotheby's auction house in Hong Kong prepared to offer it for sale in its Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art auction. The censer had been hand-delivered to Sotheby's Hong Kong offices by a private seller, who did not provide any documentation on its history of ownership.

Before the auction, Sotheby's ran a search in the Art Loss Register database, and the censer was found to be a match with the censer missing from Harvard. The register notified U.S. law enforcement authorities. Based on recommendations from U.S. Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. attorney's office in Massachusetts, the Department of Justice in September granted Harvard's request for return of the censer.

A transfer ceremony was held Tuesday at Harvard.

Thomas Lentz, director of the Harvard Art Museums, said university officials were grateful to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. attorney's office for working with Harvard to return the censer.

"Because of their efforts, the censer rejoins our permanent collections just before we open the doors to our newly renovated, state-of-the art facility this fall, when it will be accessible once again to students, faculty, and scholars," Lentz said.

The censer is approximately 6 1/2 inches tall and 7 inches wide. It dates back to the Qing Dynasty, 1644-1911, China's last imperial dynasty.

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.


Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
Submit a Random Act of Kindness
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media