Yao Yuzhong, known as the "master tomb raider", who made a 30-year career looting graves and stealing ancient cultural relies then selling the artifacts have been sentenced to death, his lawyer Bi Baosheng has told the AFP.
However, the death penalty was suspended for a two-year period during which, with good behaviour, he can appeal for a reduced sentence.
The Paper, a Chinese news website, noted that Yao was regarded as "the best in all of China's northeast," the "kingpin" of 225 grave robbers rounded up by authorities in 2015. Last year alone, the government had reported 103 cases of tomb and cultural relic theft.
Found guilty in a Liaoning trial, Yao, 55, is a native of Inner Mongolia where he had only elementary school education. He picked up the practice from his father.
China's long civilization, its elaborate burial customs, and coupled with high international demand for Chinese antiquities had made tomb raiding especially lucrative.