The New York Times has reported that the studio belong to Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been razed to the ground.
An order to raze the studio — designed by Ai Weiwei, a protean artist who is one of the most outspoken critics of the Chinese Communist Party — was issued last July. Mr. Ai took the move to be retribution for rankling the authorities. He said officials told him that the demolition would not take place until after the first day of the Year of the Rabbit, which falls on Feb. 3.
So he was shocked to discover that workers had begun knocking it down early Tuesday, Mr. Ai said in a telephone interview from Shanghai on Wednesday. Mr. Ai said a neighboring studio he had designed for a friend had also been destroyed.
“Everything is gone,” he said. “It’s all black now. They finished the job at 9 o’clock last night.”
“I called the officials and said, ‘You promised us not to take it down until after New Year’s Day,’ ” Mr. Ai recounted. “They said, ‘If the studio is to be taken down, it doesn’t matter if it’s sooner or later.’ ”
Mr. Ai said that the officials might have moved ahead with their plans so that the destruction would take place without a spotlight. Neighbors of the studio called Mr. Ai’s assistant on Tuesday morning when they heard heavy machinery next door. Mr. Ai said he rushed onto an airplane in Beijing, where he lives, and arrived in time to see four machines and dozens of workers toiling away on the site. About 80 percent of the structures had been destroyed by the afternoon, he said.
Shanghai city officials could not be reached on Wednesday evening for comment.
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