Collector in hospital after burglary shock

Top News | Wallis Wang 18 Sep 2020

Renowned mainland collector Fu Chunxiao ended up in hospital after going sleepless when burglars stole HK$4 billion worth of collectibles from his Yau Ma Tei apartment.

A day after Fu learned the extent of his loss in last Thursday's burglary, he fell ill and had to go to hospital in the mainland, his secretary said yesterday.

The Sichuan-born Fu, in his 60s, is well-known for his "revolutionary collectibles," including calligraphy by former leader Mao Zedong.

About 10 officers from the Hong Kong police crime unit and organized crime and triad bureau went to Fu's 10th-floor flat in Nathan Apartments on Nathan Road to investigate last week's burglary. Fu's daughter, who came to Hong Kong and reported the estimated loss to police, opened the door for the officers.

A picture of Mao could be seen hanging on the wall inside the apartment.

Fu has owned the flat for about 10 years, but mainly used it as a warehouse for his collections instead of his permanent residence, a security guard said. But Fu has not been able to come back to Hong Kong since January due to the pandemic.

Apart from residential units, the building houses tutoring classes, clinics and district councillors' offices, neighbors said. They added that somebody set up prostitution venues and gambling spots, which had led to burglaries in the building.

Security footage showed three men in their 30s who were not tenants entering the building when the burglary happened. Police are looking for them.

Among the items reported stolen, the most valuable piece was a two-meter-tall poem in original calligraphy by Mao, estimated to be worth HK$2 billion.

Thirty to 50 pieces of calligraphy and paintings with a total value of HK$1.98 billion were also stolen, Fu's family told police. A collection of old postage stamps worth about HK$20 million, including the famous postage stamp "The Whole Country is Red," was also stolen.

The stamp issued in 1968 features a map of China in red, except Taiwan. One of the rare philatelic items was auctioned for 13.8 million yuan (HK$15.8 million) in 2018.

But some collectors questioned whether the calligraphy was worth that much.

Collector Ho Ming-sun told The Standard that he has never seen a Mao calligraphy worth HK$2 billion. But he said it was hard to estimate the value of Mao's work as there are so many types on the market.

The burglary was discovered last Thursday when a security guard found the iron gate and wooden door to the apartment open. The guard then called police as there were signs of ransacking.

Fu is the vice president of China Cultural Relic Conservation Association and a member of the Hong Kong Philatelic Society.

Fu also organized an exhibition of Mao stamps in Hong Kong in 2018, which included 200 rare pieces from his own collection.

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