‘Antique Roadshows’, a show that involves a great deal of staring at expensive vases and paintings and little action, draws in few watchers. The Chinese version gets many more viewers than the U.S. version.
Why? Because in the Chinese version they add to the excitement: they hammer things to pieces! Obviously, they don’t destroy the real pieces, which would be just as horrifying as it is exciting.
Only the pieces that are judged as fake artifacts are destroyed. Where the show gets risky is in how the realness of an object is decided. First the celebrities on the show try and determine if the artifact is real. Then, the actual experts, taking into consideration the opinions of the celebrities, reexamine and decide whether the objects are real.
If the experts say the objects are faked they are destroyed with the hubao chui, which means “treasure-protecting hammer.” The possibility that real antiques might be destroyed by the show is a scary one. One antique porcelain vase from the Qianlong-era was decided to be fake in a 1970s show.
Later it was determined to be real and was sold for the $85.9 million at a British auction house.