Chinese solid gold Olympic mascots begin to rust
For patriotic fans of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, they were billed as the perfect purchase – limited edition versions of the games five mascots, crafted in "99.9 per cent" fine gold.But as gold prices soared in recent years hopes that that the golden mascots dolls might prove a good investment have turned to dismay after owners discovered that the commemorative 'golden' dolls were starting to rust.
One angry customer told China's state broadcaster, China Central Television (CCTV) that he had paid nearly £2,900 for 38 of the golden Fuwa, or "good luck" dolls which showed the five Beijing Games mascots engaged in a variety of Olympic sports.
The man, identified as Mr Chen from the eastern province of Jiangsu, said he had purchased the dolls through the Bank of China in a smart presentational box, complete with a certificate of authenticity from the 29th Olympic Games Organizing Committee.
The certificate described the mascots as being made of "99.9 per cent fine gold" with a limited circulation of 10,000 pieces, giving Mr Chen confidence that he was making a sound investment.
Chinese manufacturing has been bedevilled by its reputation for shoddy workmanship and corner-cutting in recent years, but investors believed they were safe buying state-backed Olympic mementos from the Bank of China.
Following the CCTV programme, which mirrored a host of similar reports in other Chinese newspapers of disgruntled customers in Nanjing, Shenzhen and Shanghai, the Bank of China had agreed to refund the purchase price of the mascots.
However the manufacturer of the mascots, the Shenzhen Eastern Gold Jade Co. said that it had no plans to offer refunds, offering instead to repair any rust-spots which it put down to flaws in its 'electro-gilding' technology.
Neither offer was satisfactory to Mr Chen or several other buyers featured on the program who demanded they should be compensated fully for the lost appreciation of their assets given that the price of gold had more than doubled since 2008.