In China, jar of fresh French air sells for $860

In China, jar of fresh French air sells for $860

Credit: Getty Images

BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 19: A general view of the skyline of central business district on February 19, 2013 in Beijing, China. Large amounts of organic nitrogen compounds were found in Beijing smog in January, the worst month in recent years. Most alarming is that the Chinese Academy of Sciences says they've found organic nitrogen particles, a key component in the deadly photochemical smog in Los Angeles in the 1950s and the Great Smog in London. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

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by USA TODAY

USA TODAY

Posted on April 11, 2014 at 8:58 AM

How much is fresh air worth in smog-choked China?

A jar of air from Provence, France, sold last month for $860.

The jar was part of a conceptual art project by Beijing artist Liang Kegang, who had returned from a trip in southern France. Liang put the jar on auction before a group of about 100 Chinese artists and collectors last month, reports the Associated Press.

"Air should be the most valueless commodity, free to breathe for any vagrant or beggar," Liang said in an interview with the AP. "This is my way to question China's foul air and express my dissatisfaction."

Beijing's air quality -- measured in particles of pollution -- has averaged 100 micrograms per cubic meter since 2008, the Wall Street Journal reports. That's more than six times the annual standard set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The buyer of the French air was Chengdu-based artist and entrepreneur Li Yongzheng.

Li told the AP, "This past year, whether it was Beijing, Chengdu or most Chinese cities, air pollution has been a serious problem. This piece of work really suits the occasion."

Follow @JolieLeeDC on Twitter.

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