Ai Weiwei’s $2.4 Million Tax Case Reviewed, Several Million Sunflowers Arrive in New York

01/06/2012 10:37 AM |

Ai Weiweis Zodiac Heads at Paul Kasmin Gallery.

  • Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac Heads at Paul Kasmin Gallery.

Last fall, following a baseless 81-day detention, Chinese authorities charged international art star and activist Ai Weiwei—or, more precisely, a company owned by his wife that helps to produce some of his work—with tax evasion, and ordered him to pay 15 million yuan ($2.4 million). Ai was given a hard deadline to pay the exorbitant sum, but Chinese authorities have agreed to review his case.

Yesterday, AFP reports, the Chinese authorities agreed to review Ai’s case, a process that could take as long as two months. If, following the review, the fine isn’t revoked or significantly reduced, Ai has other options. “They have two months to review the case. If we are not satisfied with the results, we can bring the case to court,” said Pu Zhiqiang, a lawyer for the company targeted by the fine, Fake Cultural Development Ltd.

The document that led to the review, submitted last week by Ai’s lawyers, noted the many inconsistencies with his case, such as the police’s unchecked involvement in Ai’s imprisonment and multiple violations of Chinese tax code. “We hope that the tax bureau will earnestly review the case,” Pu said.

In the meantime, Ai remains travel-banned and Beijing-bound, so he won’t be able to make it to Mary Boone Gallery in Chelsea tomorrow, where his famous sunflower seeds installation—which debuted at the Tate Modern in 2010—is opening. The show will feature five tons of the hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds. No word yet on whether visitors will be able to walk on the seeds, as they were originally in London before they were told to keep off the seeds due to concerns about potentially harmful porcelain dust. Ai’s sunflowers will be on view through February 4.


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