Last week we learned about outspoken Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei, and his tax problems. Today the news from China is that Weiwei’s supporters are pooling their money to the tune of $800,000 (and rising) to help him pay what he owes.
Weiwei certainly has the money to pay his tax bill, so what’s the motivation behind these donations? Are these wealthy art collectors who don’t want their Weiwei pieces to lose value? Unlikely. This is an artist who is known and adored for controversy; refusal to pay the government will probably only increase his popularity and increase the value of his work. Also, wealthy collectors would probably not make airplanes out of money and toss it over the gate to Weiwei’s home. Certainly some of the donations are coming from the wealthy and politically connected. However, it is clear that many of the donations are from average Chinese protestors who are symbolically “casting their vote” according to Weiwei.
It’s probably only a matter of time before a high-profile tax protestor in the Unites States pulls some publicity stunt designed to lure like-minded citizens to vote with their checkbooks like they have done in China. Good luck getting that to work here though.