China’s “Piano Prince” Li Yundi detained for suspicion of prostitution

Li Yundi, the celebrated Chinese pianist, has been held on suspicion of soliciting a sex worker. State media ‘People’s Daily’ broke the news on 21 October.

The 39-year-old musician and the concerned woman aged 29, were detained by the police of Chaoyang district in Beijing on Thursday night. Both have admitted “illegal behaviour”, according to an update from the district police on Weibo.

The Chinese musical icon has soon been abandoned by the entertainment industry with TV channels, such as Mango TV taking down the episodes that were participated by Li on one of the channel’s flagship programmes – Call Me By Fire, a 2021 Chinese reality TV show featuring male celebrities, following the blow-up yesterday. These episodes have re-appeared online with Li’s face blurred.

Dozens of brands who have collaborated with Li, including automotive manufacturer GAC Toyota, luxury watchmaker Rolex, consumer electric appliance brand Casarte and cosmetic brand L’ORÉAL, have rushed to cut ties with the once dubbed Prince of Piano.

While the lid has been lifted now, rumour has emerged that the internationally acclaimed musician had been arrested once earlier this year for the same reason.

But the incident seems to have been brushed under the carpet and is not widely aware in the public domain. Some have speculated that the recent central crackdowns on celebrities have helped to bring the scandal to the surface.

In addition to the cancellations from brands, the artist industry is also swiftly to act. The Chinese Musicians’ Association announced on Friday the removal of Li’s membership for posing “extremely negative social impacts”. While the China Association of Performing Arts calls for its members to boycott Li.

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