Airline pulls picture of bogus bidder from advert

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 June, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 June, 1999, 12:00am

An airline withdrew a photograph of a penniless woman who bid close to $1 billion in a land auction from an advertisement yesterday amid concerns over the use of the picture.

The picture of Wong Yuet-ngan raising her hand at a land auction in 1997 was originally used in a Lufthansa advertisement promoting an auction of air tickets in Apple Daily on Tuesday.

But the advertisement in the South China Morning Post yesterday ran with a blank space under the slogan: 'One auction where everyone will be welcome.' Lufthansa last night said in a statement: 'There have been one or two queries from members of the public questioning the use of the image, and in deference to their feelings we will not be using it in further advertisements.' It said the advertisement was intended solely to promote the airline's Internet auction on June 8 and authorisation for the use of the image was obtained from the copyright owner of the picture.

It is understood Ms Wong had not been told her picture was to be used.

Nor had her family contacted the airline after it was run.

Her family declined to comment last night.

Ms Wong, 55, claimed to represent tycoon Li Ka-shing when she successfully bid $890 million for a Kowloon Bay site on October 14, 1997.

But when it was time to pay, Ms Wong caused pandemonium by failing to produce the $90 million deposit.

The sale was cancelled, the police were called and Ms Wong was taken to hospital before being transferred to a psychiatric unit. She was later discharged.

A spokesman for the Equal Opportunities Commission said: 'The advert may create an impression for some people that it is making fun of or belittling people with a disability.'