Right after art collector and connoisseur Cai Mingchao announced to the world that he was the successful bidder of the bronze heads of a rat and rabbit, China praised him, with newspaper headlines saying "Patriotic bidder thwarts relics sale".
The government went on to warn Christie's that there would be trouble if the auction house was caught with any Chinese relics in its possession in China.
And a former foreign minister jumped into the fray, saying the auction of the two "stolen relics" would not bring any glory "to the homeland of the auctioneer."
"No matter which country one is from and what he does, he needs to consider not hurting his country's reputation," Li Zhaoxing said earlier this week.
But now in the latest twist of this ongoing saga, China now says it denies being involved in any way in the bidding for the two bronze heads.
"The bidding was completely a personal behaviour," Shan Jixiang, director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage told Xinhua.
Shan said the cultural department had no idea that Cai was bidding until he revealed himself on Monday.
It's interesting to see the government distancing itself from Cai... does it now realize what he did was a major loss of face for the country, or that it was a failed attempt to whip up frenzied nationalism to distract people from their economic woes?
It looks more and more like the bronze animal heads will be returned to Pierre Berge who will probably relish having them back in his possession, as he did with the unsold rare Picasso.
Seems that people are much more focused on China's economy and their own wallets to worry about items that were looted over 150 years ago in the imperialist era.
Hopefully this will be the end of the publicity stunt to try to get "stolen cultural relics" back for free.
Everything has a price.