One of the Beijing Olympic torches was sold at a Olympic-themed auction held here on Friday, with a price of 260,000 yuan , 173 times higher than the cost.
With an asking price of 120,000 yuan, the final bid for the torch reached 291,200 yuan, plus the commission, Beijing based newspaper The Beijing News reported on Sunday.
The cost of each torch was around 1,500 yuan, the newspaper quoted an official from the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games as saying.
The auction was held during Olympex, the Olympic Expo Beijing 2008, featuring Olympic-themed products. Torches used in previous Athens, London and Berlin Olympics and the ongoing Beijing Olympics were warmly welcomed by the buyers.
Of all torches, the Beijing Olympic torch, the red and silver "Xiangyun" torch, resembling an ancient scroll and featuring "lucky cloud", attract the most attention.
Its price exceeded any other torches, even the Berlin Olympic torch in 1936, when the first Olympics torch relay was launched. The Berlin torch hit 168,000 yuan finally, and the average price of other torches remained from 50,000 yuan to 70,000 yuan.
The auctioneer, China Guardian Auctions Co. Ltd, however refused to reveal the detail information of the torch seller as well as the buyer, saying "it was a personal business."
As for this commercial act, BOCOG responded on Saturday that it would not encourage the sale of the torch as it stood for the holy and pure Olympic event.
But at the same time, BOCOG would not ban such commercial activities in future, because the organization had bought and then given the torch to the torchbearer as a gift, which was different to previous Olympics, when it was the torchbearers themselves who bought the torches.
The International Olympic Committee had made no special rules yet for bearers on how to deal with the torch. It only clarified its no-support for using the torch in a commercial way.
According to the BOCOG, it had bought the torch with a fairly cheap price -- 1,500 yuan, much cheaper than previous Olympic torches, because the torch production company in Beijing conducted the production with almost zero profit.
The aluminium-made "xiangyun" torch, created by the designers at Chinese PC giant Lenovo, is 72 centimeters tall and weighs 985 grams.
In Chinese mythology, deities ride flying on "xiangyun", or lucky clouds. Chinese people expect the auspicious clouds to bring blessings and harmony.