While celebrity conspiracy theories are never in short supply, they're often dubious and quite farfetched. However, the latest one seems to have some merit and is prompting people to question why exactly one of China's most famous actresses, Fan Bingbing, hasn't been seen in more than three months.
The X-Men: Days of Future Past and Iron Man 3 actress was reportedly last seen on July 1 at a children's hospital, and her 63 million followers on her Sina Weibo account, which is similar to Twitter, haven't heard from her since July 23. In multiple reports, all requests for comment from Fan and her team were unsuccessful.
At one point, Fan, who turned 37 on Sunday, was the fifth highest paid actress in the world and earned $17 million in 2016. Though, it is speculated that her income is the source of her mysterious disappearance.
In May, CCTV presenter Cui Yongyuan leaked two of Fan's "yin-yang" movie contracts. Reportedly, one contract showed what Fan actually earned ($7.8 million) and the other one ($1.6 million) was a lower number that was to be submitted to the tax authorities, which Fan's representatives have previously denied. While this is a common practice among many industries in China, the presenter then called on the Chinese authorities to "step up regulations on show business."
Without mentioning Fan, the State Administration of Taxation stated, "If violations of tax laws and regulations are found, they will be handled in strict accordance with the law."
The tax investigation was opened in the Jiangsu province, where Fan's film studio is based, but her studio has denied everything. Chinese officials haven't confirmed if she is under investigation or not.
According The New York Times, Fan hasn't been charged for any crimes, but her professional partnerships and upcoming movie projects are suffering. She was set to star in the Unbreakable Spirit movie with Bruce Willis, but her name has since been removed from the movie posters, and her role in another unspecified film has been edited out. A Thailand duty free store and brands such as Montblanc and Swisse Wellness, announced they will no longer use Fan's name and have terminated her contract.
Despite her previous charity work and founding an organization to help children in Tibet who have heart disease, a Chinese university put Fan in last place on their 2017-2018 China Film and Television Star Social Responsibility Report.
Since the news of the investigation was reported, there have been rumors that Fan was arrested, detained, or has possibly even left China.
As a result of the investigation, the country has imposed limits on how much actors can earn. Reportedly, actors cannot earn more than 70 percent of the whole cast or more than 40 percent of the production costs, which is said to be an effort to prevent "distorting social values" and reinforce "core socialist values."
Fan, who is set to star in the upcoming 355 movie along with Penelope Cruz and Luptia Nyong'o, reportedly was placed "under control" by Chinese authorities and was said to "accept the legal decision," but that report has since been retracted and Fan's whereabouts remain unknown.
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