Sep 04 2019

Founder Of Shanghai’s Himalayas Museum Investigated For Financial Crimes

by Evelyn Goh

Businessman Dai Zhikang, founder of the private Shanghai Himalayas Museum, turned himself in to police on August 29 in connection with a formal investigation into illicit fundraising and embezzlement involving his firm. Image via Flickr.

Shanghai-based tycoon Dai Zhikang, founder of the property and investment conglomerate Zendai Group and the private Shanghai Himalayas Museum, surrendered himself to police on August 29. Dai was being investigated for a peer-to-peer (P2P) lending scam involving his firm. According to Shanghai’s Public Security Bureau, Dai claimed his company’s online lending units would default on payments, and admitted to illicit fundraising and embezzlement. In addition to Dai, 40 suspects have been detained, and all assets linked to the case have been frozen. 

Aside from collecting modern and classical Chinese art, Dai has been involved in a number of cultural projects over the past 15 years. Zendai established the private, non-profit Shanghai Himalayas Museum, formerly named the Zendai Museum of Modern Art, in 2005. The institution relocated in 2012 to Zendai’s Arata Isozaki-designed Himalayas Center, which also includes an office block and a hotel, in Shanghai’s Pudong district. The museum holds regular contemporary art exhibitions as well as public programs. The property group also developed Zendai Zhujiajiao Art Space, which is dedicated to exhibitions and research on contemporary ink and wash painting, and located in Shanghai’s Hongqiao suburb. A third venue, Zendai Contemporary Art Space, shuttered its doors in 2016.

Dai’s surrender comes less than a month after the closure of two Zendai-operated lending units, which were managed under the subsidiary Laocaibao and valued at approximately USD 1.4 billion. The company’s leaked internal emails stated that the lending platform was shut down by authorities. The case is the latest in a series of intense regulatory crackdowns by the government on China’s P2P lending industry in recent years, in an attempt to mitigate the country’s debt bubble. 

Evelyn Goh is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.

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