Ai Weiwei reaps £480,000 from sack of seeds of fortune
The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has sold a ton of the porcelain sunflower seeds he displayed at the Tate Modern for $782,000 (£480,000), a record sum for his work which should help to pay off his tax bill if an appeal against the Chinese taxman does not go his way.
The sackful of handpainted seeds, sold at an auction at Sotheby's in New York, is one of an edition of 10 and is accompanied by a certificate signed by the artist. The artwork was originally displayed in the Turbine Hall at the London gallery but had to be removed because of health concerns over particles of ceramic dust.
The sale comes days after a Beijing court accepted the artist's legal action against a 15m yuan (£1.5m) tax evasion penalty that the government levied against the company that markets his work.
A controversial figure in China, Ai, who collaborated with the Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron on the design of the Bird's Nest Stadium for the Beijing Olympics, was arrested in March last year and held for almost three months before being released without charges. His activism has long irritated the authorities but the artist is a cultural blue-blood in the country, the son of revered poet and Communist Party member Ai Qing and his wife, Gao Ying.
After he was freed, authorities billed him for taxes they said were owed by Beijing Fake Cultural Development, a company controlled by his wife. He said the penalty was "a joke" intended to disguise the fact that his detention was politically motivated. His supporters have donated huge sums to help him pay an £860,000 guarantee needed to challenge the charge.
The artist has said he plans to make every aspect of his appeal public, to allow people to judge for themselves whether he was right or wrong. "Every detail will be posted on the internet and it will be a part of history," he said.
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
- 2 Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware of promises. Vote Yes.
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Revealed after 75 years of secrecy: 'Fifi' the glamorous WW2 special agent who tested British spies' resolve
- 5 Have you heard about the film Singapore has banned its people from watching? Well, you have now
Laurie Lee's Rosie: What is it like to inspire a writer's work and be immortalised forever on the page?
Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
Doctor Who series 8: Time Heist pictures revealed ahead of episode 5
The Walking Dead season 5 air date, trailer and season 4 recap
Star Wars 7 leaked set photo of Adam Driver changes everything
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'