Whopping $1.85 Million in Fines and Back Taxes for Ai Weiwei

06/29/2011 8:57 AM |

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Ai Weiwei’s retrospective of New York City photos opens at Asia Society tomorrow, but he’s going to need some big commercial exhibitions—and a whole lot more sunflower seeds—if he’s going to pay a ludicrous sum of fines and back taxes that the Chinese government says he owes following his recent detainment and alleged admission of tax evasion.

Reuters reports that the Chinese artist-activist, who was released last week after being detained for 80 days, has been ordered to pay back taxes and fines amounting to 12 million yuan, or $1.85 million. His lawyer, Liu Xiaoyuan, tells Reuters that the artist received a notice yesterday from tax authorities requesting that he pay back taxes to the tune of 5 million yuan, and another 7 million yuan in fines.

Liu explained that Ai has three days to express any opinions about the demands. If he does not pay the specified sums—which he has said he would pay—Ai could be subject to legal action. Meanwhile, the police has yet to file a notice or report explaining why they detained the world-famous artist in the first place. “Ai’s family says the allegations are an excuse to silence his criticism.”

(Hyperallergic; Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)