January 23, 2010

From "Black Paint Incident" to Royal Concubines

When a poster featuring movie star Zhang Ziyi (章子怡) outside a luxury Beijing hotel was splashed with black paint, nobody could have foreseen what was about to ensue: a cat fight between China's most famous celebrity and an outdated singer who was later alleged to be the proud concubine of a national founder's son.

One Netizen chirped, "Who would have thought to see the red version of Gossip Girl? This is hilarious." Others gaped, "What a dog-bite-dog farce!" People like the late General Ye Jianying and Israeli multi-millionaire Vivi Nevo all enjoyed the "fortune" of having their names bandied about in the fray. Once again, Tianya forum buzzed with scandalous details about the lives of the powerful and/or the rich.

Events Recap

Black Paint Incident (泼墨门)
On December 23, 2009, several reporters received a tip on the secret engagement between movie star Maggie Cheung (张曼玉) with her German boyfriend, about to take place in Park Hyatt Beijing Hotel. Although the tip was later proven to be a false lead, it drew more than enough paparazzi to the site to witness the black paint incident.

Past midnight on December 24, just when disappointed reporters were packing up, a group of men with Dongbei accents walked into Park Hyatt hotel where Zhang Ziyi supposedly bought an luxury apartment. Failing to obtain Zhang's exact room number from hotel security, they began to swear, calling Zhang "a stupid cunt, cheating people of their money and seducing married men."

The pararazzi were shocked inmobile, for never in their wildest dream did they expect such a scene. By the time some recovered to take pictures, the men had already left.

30 minutes later, another group of men came by the hotel to spray paint on Zhang's posters outside the hotel. As one reporter recalled, the men were calm and organized.

The black paint incident intrigued many. It appeared to be superbly orchestrated, its target clearly being Zhang Ziyi. In addition to the Maggie Cheung false engagement news used to bait the media, there were microblogs reporting the whole incident live. "The most famous female star now in a huge mess. One woman claimed that the star conned 1,000,000,000 yuan from her and seduced her boyfriend," a microblog wrote, "A group of burly men cussed the star loudly in the lobby of XX hotel lobby. But she never showed up."

The smeared poster

Hong Huang (Hung Huang, 洪晃) Chimed in as Zhang's Ally
The black paint incident caused many to speculate that Zhang shortchanged some business partner. Just when rumors of Wendi Murdoch being the mastermind behind the attack start to take root, media morgul and blogger Hong Huang announced otherwise on her microblog: "As far as I know, the woman who hired these thugs does not have a husband, because she is someone's mistress. Of course, for someone to keep mistresses so openly and for the mistress to act so boldly, it cannot be just any ordinary family. I suggest entertainment reporters look for this socialite." In addition, she scoffed at the idea that Mrs. Murdoch was in any way responsible.

During an interview later, Hong praised Zhang Ziyi's professionalism, such as being prompt to respond to any filming requests and never arriving late at photo shoots. Hong also said that Zhang cherishes her reputation very much.

Identity of the Mastermind Revealed
With the lead from Hong Huang and help from the human flesh search engine (including perhaps gunmen), Netizens quickly had a name: Zhao Xinyu (赵欣瑜). Officially, Zhao is the Beijing Socialite and Party Queen, who never misses a single fashion party and who always sits in the front row of any top Beijing fashion show. Unofficially, Zhao is a kept mistress, whose paramour descended from one of new China's most prestigious political families. If the sources did not err, then Zhao's lover is Ye Xuanlian (叶选廉), the third son of General Ye Jianying. Ye Xuanlian has an official wife and daughter but no son.

Netizens also found an old published article in which Zhao Xinyu talked with great pride about her illicit love and her paramour who encouraged her to have a son because he only has a daughter.

Since polygamy is outlawed in the People's Republic of China and because the new Chinese slogans condemn extramarital affairs, mistresses are not quite lauded as the pillars of morality. As a result, Zhao received epithets such as "Professional Xiao San" and "Outdated Singer" once her background and status came to light. In response to these nicknames, Zhao calmly told a newspaper:

"I love my Mister. Even though we never married, it didn't prevent me from giving him a son!" Zhao revealed that she and the "mister" fell in love in the 1980s and had a male child together. "My son attended Beijing Jingshan School. It has Beijing's best elementary school. Most scions from powerful political families go there. My son is 16 years old now, and we still live together." Zhao never intended to hide her relationship from public, "I love him. I want to give him a child. Did this harm anybody?"

Zhao's sister Songli Zhao (赵松丽) was more emotional: "All this happened 20 years ago. You need more than this stale old story to damage her reputation. Everybody already know about her status."

Zhao Xinyu's shoe closet

Zhao in her party costume

A video of her singing: http://v.sohu.com/20091223/n269165881.shtml

Zhao commenting on Zhang
In one interview, Zhao Xinyu explained a few events that occurred prior to the black paint incident. At a 2008 BAZAAR charity event, Zhao introduced her then friend Zhang Ziyi to a married Shanghainese business man. The two soon took up a more serious relationship, even though Zhang still had not split from fiance Vivi Nevo. While they were dating, the infatuated businessman gave Zhang expensive gifts, many of which were jewelry. "A separate anonymous email" sent to the reporter earlier confirmed what Zhao told him: "Zhang Ziyi was dating Nevo and the Shanghai man simultaneously. The man gave Zhang a limited edition Tiffany necklace, diamond earrings and necklace, a Hermes diamond lascote handbag, an Audi luxury car, and two paintings worth several hundred thousand US dollars." The gifts totaled about 2,000,000,000 yuan.

In 2009, the Shanghai man's wife found out about the illicit relationship between her husband and Zhang Ziyi. The wife blamed Zhao for introducing the two, while Zhang Ziyi believed Zhao was the snitch. Right before the paint incident, Zhang Ziyi's brother Zhang Zinan sent a threatening text message to Zhao.

Zhao further delineated differences between herself and Zhang, which ultimately caused them to go separate ways. For example, when Zhao attends charity auctions, she buys expensive objects without regard to the price, whereas Zhang will even sell jewelry to friends for money.

During the interview, Zhao also confirmed the break up between Zhang and her fiance Nevo, citing disagreements on financial arrangements as the reason.

Despite of this chat, reporter expressed some doubts, for none of the reasons given by Zhao Xinyu can explain the deep antagonism between the two women. Zhao was not completely forthcoming about the truth, he finally decided.

Vivi Nevo coming to Zhang's rescue?
Early January, Zhang Ziyi produced a statement from her fiance Vivi Nevo, who had not been heard from for many months. The document expressed unconditional support for Zhang. A photo of it is shown below.

Many Chinese question the letter's authenticity, because it ostensibly lacked Nevo's signature.

Zhang Ziyi goes to court
Following the news report about Zhang Ziyi's supposed affair with the Shanghai businessman, Zhang filed a defamation lawsuit against the media company.

In a separate news article, Zhao Xinyu finally admited that one of her friends instigated the black paint incident, because the friend had found out about Zhang Zinan's threatening text message. Zhao claims she does not fear lawsuit over what she said. In the end, Zhang will lose face more than she does (Zhang is not suing Zhao for some reason).

Netizen Reactions
At the current stage, what caused or didn't cause the black paint incident is no longer the focus of gossips. Other than the "excitement" that accompanies watching any fight, Chinese Netizens generally expressed disillusionment.

In a country claiming complete break from ancient feudal China, how can offsprings of its founding fathers so publicly keep mistresses? In addition, where does Zhao get all the money she splurges since she does not work (hypothesis: taxpayer money and graft)? Many disappointed young women claimed nausea at Zhao's so-called love for her Mister.

As for Zhang Ziyi, who has always been quite controversial in China, her reputation is further tarnished by the news reports that paint her as a wanton gold digger toying with married men. Tianya Netizens are now busy examining Zhang's donation record, for there are supposedly inconsistencies between various news articles and her official donation records. Netizens suspect Zhang of either lying or stealing some of the earthquake donation funds.

Still, others who work for entertainment media believe this all is just a ploy on both women's part to gain publicity.

http://yoka.chinadaily.com.cn/renren/women/2009/0112136689.shtml (News article 名媛赵欣瑜:生活中的PARTY QUEEN)
http://web.wenxuecity.com/BBSView.php?SubID=style&MsgID=1329399 (我所知道的赵欣瑜)
http://www.tianya.cn/publicforum/content/funinfo/1/1754308.shtml (向章子怡泼墨的老三是谁?根据洪晃的线索,难道是她?)
http://www.qlwb.com.cn/display.asp?id=479229 (News article 赵欣瑜不求和奉陪到底 章子怡告媒体决不手软)
http://www.china.org.cn/arts/2010-01/16/content_19249710.htm (News article Zhang Ziyi sues newspaper, Vivi Nevo issues statement)
http://www.tianya.cn/publicforum/content/funinfo/1/1772735.shtml (Forum thread 组图:章子怡“泼墨门女主角”现身 揭秘真相(转载))
http://ent.sina.com.cn/s/m/2010-01-22/06302853156.shtml (News article 章子怡“泼墨门”是一场事先张扬的网络事件?)
http://www.beelink.com/20100115/2706436.shtml (News article 泼墨者"赵欣瑜曾患产后抑郁想自杀 是未婚妈妈)

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