Ai Wei Wei, Dissident Artist Freed From Jail, Fined Almost $2 Million


Last week we reported that Ai Wei Wei, the dissident artist whose detention in China sparked international outcry, had been released after almost three months in jail. Authorities said he’d been released for health reasons, and for cooperatively copping to tax evasion. No details on the amount owed had been announced at the time. The BBC reports today that Ai received a bill yesterday, to the tune of $1.9 million in back taxes and penalties for his company Beijing Fake Cultural Development, Ltd.

Although the artist cannot talk to media as a condition of his bail, Ai’s mother has been going to the press in defense of her son, telling the New York Times that Ai is not the chief executive or legal representative of the company. She said he disagreed with the amount stated, refused to sign the papers presented by tax authorities, and insisted on speaking to his accountant first.

Ai’s accountant, Hu Mingfen, was one of four of Ai’s associates who had also been detained, but were released last week. The other three associates were Liu Zhenggang, Ai’s studio designer, Zhang Jinsong, his driver, and Wen Tao, a journalist.