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China’s ‘Red Princess’ and the $13 million Sydney penthouse she spent just two nights in

10/09/16

Bao Bao Wan’s Instagram feed details the sort of glamorous life that exists only in the imagination of most ordinary people: travelling by private jet, front-row seats at the fashion shows across Europe, homes in London, Hong Kong, Paris and Beijing.

And, according to sources, a sparkling $10.5 million penthouse in Sydney is also on the list – for now.

The Residence penthouse on Hyde Park.
The Residence penthouse on Hyde Park.

By all accounts it was a bullish purchase  price for The Residence penthouse last year, coming in at $1 million more than the nearest offer.

But since then the “Red Princess” has only spent two nights at the lavish two-storey spread. Just enough time for a quick snap of the rooftop pool astride a gold inflated swan.

And yet contrary to talk pinning the penthouse ownership on Bao Bao, her representative on the deal at the time says it was ultimately purchased by a Jun Yang, who has never visited the apartment but who holds the title in his name.

Now less than 18 months after the deal settled it has been listed for sale with a $13 million asking price through Anthony Birdsall, of Laing Real Estate.

 The Residence is not short on high-profile buyers from China.

                                                                       

The sub-penthouse is owned by Chinese movie star and one-time billionaire Liu Xiaoqing, who bought it in a company name last year for $8.9 million from fund manager Alwyn Heong.

The building’s top sale result was set by billionaire and founder and chairman of the ship building group Shanghai Zhouji in 2013 at $17 million.

Despite the intrigue surrounding Bao Bao’s ownership of the penthouse, her impressive family history is no secret. Her late grandfather, Wan Li, was a first-generation Communist revolutionary who rose to the office of vice-premier and chairman of the National People’s Congress.

As a result Wan was raised within the red-walled confines of Zhongnanhai, the compound reserved for Beijing’s top leadership and their families, before she opted to complete her education in New York.

The Archibald penthouse in the Residence in SydneyThe Archibald penthouse in the Residence in Sydney Photo: Sotheby’s International Realty

The ostentatious trappings of wealth enjoyed by the likes of Wan are increasingly prevalent in the world’s capital cities, with decades of explosive Chinese economic growth enriching its most entrepreneurial, as well as its most powerful and politically-connected.

Those born with a silver spoon are best known by the derisory moniker fuerdai, or “rich second-generation”, a blanket term for young, often western-educated rich kids who frequently flaunt their wealth on social media, posing purposefully alongside fast cars and luxury yachts.

Between being papped arm-in-arm with the likes of Victoria Beckham and Adrian Brody, Wan designs her own line of fine jewellery, which she describes on her website as the “embodiment of the modern Chinese woman”.

“I love jewellery, so designing jewellery became my job. It’s a happy process,” she said in a Chinese media interview back in 2009.

“My designs tend to be unique and bold, I don’t like ordinary.”

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