For Shanghai-based sculptor Chen Dapeng, who is exhibiting his work at the London Olympia Winter Art & Antiques Fair, today has been ‘the most exciting day of my life.’
On Monday night he hosted a champagne reception on his enormous 200 sq m stand at London’s top exhibition venue. It was attended by some 200 people:art critics, buyers, journalists and photographers and, even, some relatives of the British Queen. The focus was very much on his controversial bust of the British monarch which has been offered to the British Queen as a gift but which has got caught up in a diplomatic quagmire.
Today the British press was full of articles about his work. There were features in the prestigious newspaper The Times, the influential broadsheeet The Daily Telegraph and the mass market tabloid Metro. This followed extensive worldwide web coverage on newspaper sites.
By 9.30 am today, Chen Dapeng was on the way to the ITV studios with his controversial bust of HM Queen Elizabeth II. At 1030 it was featured throughout Britain with a four minute live slot on This Morning hosted by revered national celebs Philip and Holly.
The reaction to the bust was instant. Thousands of people took to Twitter, some applauding it, others likening it to Tom Hanks, Liberace (who he? Answer, long deceased piano pounder), Prince Phillip (husband of the Queen) and, even, the late Robin Williams.
However, it was at lunchtime that the offers to buy the bust started to pour in. They came from New York (where Vanity Fair had publicised it), from Hong Kong, and from China itself.
However, the European agents for Chen Dapeng, Paul Harris Asia Arts, had already received two tentative offers to buy the bust at their champagne party on Monday night. Said Paul Harris today, “We were approached by two separate very serious people who said that if it was not going to Buckingham Palace they would like it. Then we received by email and telephone further offers from much further afield. This thing has gone viral. We are now fighting off enquiries.”
But what about the offer to give it to the Queen? Said Harris,”It needs the Chinese government to officially ask Her Majesty if she would like it and the bureaucratic channels are clogged up.”
Said Chen Dapeng, “The Chinese Embassy in London is useless. Despite the fact I have been appointed by Beijing as sculptor for UK-China Cultural Exchange Year (2015), they refuse to recognise me or to act until they get direct orders from Beijing. They are incompetent.”
Nobody from the Chinese Embassy attended Chen Dapeng’s champagne party although even the Argentinian Ambassador was there! Nobody at the Chinese Embassy would comment.
And the offers? The bust has been optioned to a British buyer at ‘around’ half a million pounds. However, the latest offers are well into the millions . . . Looks like Chen Dapeng is set for a great future far from his native China.