or the first time in more than three months, China’s most famous actress, Fan Bingbing, was spotted in public, photographed by Chinese paparazzi getting into a car outside of the Beijing airport earlier this evening.
Fan’s last public appearance came on July 1st. After that, the 37-year-old star’s whereabouts had become a mystery amid an investigation into her tax filings. Rumors circulated that Fan had been arrested, that she had been banned from leaving China, that she had been banned from acting for three years, that her production company’s offices had been emptied, and even that she had sought asylum in the United States.
Finally, on October 3rd, authorities in Jiangsu province announced that Fan was guilty of tax fraud, stating that she could avoid prison by paying 883 million yuan ($129 million) in back taxes and fees. Hours later, Fan broke her months-long social media silence, posting an apology on her Weibo account, declaring that she was “deeply ashamed” of what she had done.
It had been reported that during her disappearance Fan was residing at a “holiday resort” in Jiangsu province that is used to house officials under investigation and that she had been relocated to Beijing.
In the paparazzi photos from Beijing, Fan is seen walking swiftly to a waiting car, dressed in low-key black, wearing a hat and shades, looking down at the ground, and with a man holding an umbrella for cover. The images quickly became the top trending topic on Weibo and netizens couldn’t help but notice that the star was also sporting a pair of sparkly platform shoes.
Fan got into trouble with authorities over her use of so-called “yin-yang contracts,” wherein she would receive two separate contracts for the same film project, one of which would be reported to authorities, the other would not, thus helping her sidestep millions in taxes.
She has been China’s highest-paid celebrity for the past four years, according to Forbes, taking in (a reported) 300 million yuan ($46.8 million) last year alone. The actress’ first breakout film role came inCell Phoneback in 2003. She has since gone on to act in Hollywood blockbusters likeX-Men: Days of Future Past.