×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fan Bingbing Starts to Re-Emerge Months After Tax Scandal

Half a year after she was found guilty of tax fraud and disappeared from the public eye, Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing has begun to signal her comeback, attending a gala event and launching her own beauty product on social media this week.

The 37-year-old actress unexpectedly hit the red carpet in Beijing on Monday at a ninth-anniversary event for streaming giant iQiyi, though she arrived late and didn’t answer media questions. “iQiyi hosted a closed-door event of entertainment professionals, unrelated to any specific projects,” the company told Variety in response to a query about Fan’s attendance.

Industry watchers saw her presence as an attempt to assess public reception of her re-emergence months after she issued a groveling public apology and was ordered to pay more than $100 million in penalties and back taxes. Reactions on social media to her re-appearance suggest that Fan could face a tough road back to public favor.

At the iQiyi event, she wore what is assumed to be sponsored luxury clothing – an Alexander McQueen suit, a Louis Vuitton handbag, and De Beers jewelry – in a sign that the fashion world, at least, appears ready to forgive. (Fan was the public face of Louis Vuitton and De Beers for years before her fall from grace.) A selfie of the star holding up a V-for-victory hand gesture in the company of Yue Hua Entertainment CEO Du Hua has made the rounds online. She herself posted her red-carpet photos on her Instagram account, which has lain more or less dormant since last May.

Commenting on the post, Jessica Chastain wrote “Beautiful” with a heart emoji. Chastain is set to begin shooting this year alongside Fan, Lupita Nyong’o, Penelope Cruz and Marion Cotillard in the all-woman spy thriller “355,” directed by Simon Kinberg, a film whose fate had been uncertain in the wake of the Fan’s fall from grace.

The response in Fan’s home country, whose highly censored online space is often swept up in fits of nationalism, has been much frostier, with many netizens apparently unwilling to forgive and forget.

Under the top news story about her iQiyi appearance on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform, amidst the comments extolling her beauty, hundreds of thousands had posted and liked vitriolic retorts, many calling her a thick-skinned liar.

“So we’re supposed to pretend that nothing happened?” wrote one commenter, while another added sarcastically: “It’s so great to be an artist in China – Chinese people apparently only have a three second-long memory.”

Another said of her tax evasion: “If an act is wrong, even if thousands upon thousands of people are doing the same thing, it’s still wrong.”

On Wednesday, her beauty brand Fan Beauty announced the launch of a “seagrape deep hydrating water gel” face mask, which goes on sale in Hong Kong on Friday. Included was a promotional video message from the actress.

Last month, Fan was photographed at the opening of a new beauty salon in central Beijing. Although the designer Zhang Shuai publicly stated that it was his business venture, Chinese databases show that Fan’s mother holds 98% of shares and her father the other 2%.

Membership cards begin at RMB50,000 ($7,400) and go up to RMB1 million ($148,000), leaked photos circulating online showed.

Since last fall, Fan has posted only a few times on either Chinese or foreign social media: wishing fans a happy lunar new year in February on Instagram (a platform blocked in China), giving a shout-out to Chinese film “The Crossing” in March, and honoring firefighters who battled a big forest fire in the southwestern province of Sichuan in April.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Noahs Ark

    India’s Symbiosys to Co-Produce, Co-Animate Gullane’s ‘Noah’s Ark’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Noah’s Ark – A Musical Adventure,” Brazil’s most ambitious animated feature ever, just got a bit bigger with the announcement that producers Fabiano Gullane’s Gullane, Walter Salles’ Videofilmes and Felipe Sabino and Daniel Greco’s NIP will be joined by leading Indian animation studio Symbiosys Technologies as co-producers and co-animators. The partnership marks the first occasion [...]

  • Navarra

    Navarre Film Commission Celebrates First Decade at San Sebastian

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —    Since the 1950s, Spain has been a favorite European shooting locale. One of the biggest reasons remains its easily accessible, unique and diverse locations. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this past June, the Navarre Film Commission kicked off a traveling exhibition which has been touring Spain over the summer and will present [...]

  • Rambo Last Blood

    Film Review: 'Rambo: Last Blood'

    Home has always been an abstract concept for John Rambo, which is what the last scene of 2008’s otherwise expendable “Rambo” sequel finally gave the iconic Sylvester Stallone character: a moment when this unsettled Vietnam War survivor, looking very much the worse for wear, lumbers up to a mailbox bearing the character’s surname. At last, [...]

  • Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith. Jada

    Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith's Westbrook Inks Development Pact With Telepool (EXCLUSIVE)

    Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s new media venture, Westbrook Inc., has signed a co-development agreement for feature films, television shows and digital entertainment formats with German-based film and TV company Telepool. The move follows the acquisition of Telepool last year by Smith and Elysian Fields, a Zurich-based investment company. Westbrook, launched this year by [...]

  • There's Something in the Water

    Toronto Film Review: 'There’s Something in the Water'

    Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the unpleasant sights, smells and pollutants of industry have typically been located where the poor folk dwell, and police society needn’t notice. With the dawn of popular environmental consciousness about a half-century ago, it became clear that toxic byproducts with a dismayingly long shelf life and unknown (or, [...]

  • 'David Foster: Off the Record' Review:

    Toronto Film Review: 'David Foster: Off the Record'

    By the early 1970s, as the counterculture was dissolving and reconfiguring, there were new pop-star archetypes on the horizon that we still tend to think of — the glam rocker, the sensitive singer-songwriter, the hair-band metal strutter, the prog-rock wizard, the belting pop chanteuse, the punk rocker. But there was another figure of the era [...]

  • Bob IgerSimon Weisenthal Gala honoring Bob

    Bob Iger Would Have Combined Disney With Apple if Steve Jobs Were Still Alive

    Disney and Apple are both launching their own streaming services come November, but Disney CEO Bob Iger says the two companies weren’t always on competing paths. In an excerpt from his autobiography published Wednesday in “Vanity Fair,” Iger revealed that Disney and Apple likely would have merged if Steve Jobs hadn’t died in 2011. “I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content