Chinese breakout star Fan Bingbing vanished without a trace three months ago but it seems she has resurfaced after photos were posted of her at Beijing Capital International Airport.
Her disappearance sparked rumors that she had been raptured by the Chinese Communist Party but there’s more to that.
Reports Fan was reported to have last been seen in public on July 1, when she visited a children’s hospital, but remained mysteriously absent since then. Her account on the Sina Weibo social media network – China’s equivalent of Twitter – where the actress has almost 63 million followers, has reportedly not been updated since July 23. However, Malaysian news outlet The Star reports that Fan made a “brief” online appearance on Weibo with a message that was “swiftly deleted” on Sunday, her 37th birthday.
The actress, who has starred in the likes of X-Men: Days of Future Past and Iron Man 3, is reportedly one of China’s highest paid actresses, hence the intense curiosity surrounding her whereabouts.
Fan Bingbing’s ‘disappearance’ came following a scandal surrounding tax evasion, and her recent statement confirms the two are linked. According to The New York Times,the star was recently accused of having dual contracts — known as “yin and yang” contracts – which would mean she declared her movie earnings to the tax authorities as substantially less than they were in reality. This is an illegal process in China.
China’s film industry is state-controlled, and following the accusations that Fan had hidden more than $6 million in earnings from the tax office from one film alone through yin and yang contracts, the State Administration of Taxation announced it would be embarking upon an industry-wide inquiry.
“I feel ashamed and guilty for what I did, and here, I offer my sincere apology to everyone. For a long period of time, I did not uphold the responsibility of safeguarding the interests of my country and our society against my personal interests. I feel ashamed that I committed tax evasion in ‘Unbreakable Spirit’ and other projects by taking advantage of ‘split contracts.'”
The statement continued, with the actress apologising to her fans and the rest of society:
“I shouldn’t have lost my ability to govern myself in the face of economic interests, leading myself to break the law. Here I sincerely apologise to society, friends who care about me, the public and the taxation authorities.”
Since the accusations emerged and the inquiry was announced, Fan appeared to have been removed from at least one film project she was working on. TIME reports her name has been for the Unbreakable Spirit movie, which stars Bruce Willis. Adverts she featured in for Australian vitamin brand Swisse have also reportedly been suspended.
Fan and her companies reportedly face up to RMB 883 million (almost £100 million) in fines and back taxes. It’s unknown whether she’ll be allowed to act again, so Fan Bingbing’s followers appear generally positive in their response to her statement, so for them, it’ll be a waiting game as to when – or if – they’ll get their star back.