End of the high life: Eccentric Beijing doctor's illegal penthouse villa is demolished

Infamous rooftop structure that was the bane of residents' and officials now just a pile of debris

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 August, 2014, 6:04pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 August, 2014, 6:40pm

A powerful Beijing doctor’s illegal villa atop a 26-storey building in the capital has been dismantled one year after authorities issued the demolition orders.

The two-floor villa – equipped with several dining halls, gyms, karaoke bars, guest rooms and an open-air swimming pool, according to media reports – caused a stir when it came to public attention last year as much for its oddity and the eccentric reputation of its owner.

Zhang Biqing, who made his fortune in traditional Chinese medicine, on Tuesday invited a group of reporters from Beijing to survey what remained of his sprawling villa in northwest Beijing.

Zhang showed the steel boards and debris littering where the structure once stood. The Beijing Morning Post reported that Zhang had yet to tear down a few stairs.

The capital’s urban enforcement authorities had issued an ultimatum last August for the structure to be torn down within 15 days.

Watch: Drone footage of the illegal rooftop before demolition

Neighbours had for years complained about the structure, including noise coming from the villa in the evening and arguing that the mansion was damaging the building’s integrity.

Some neighbours who had complained suffered harrassment and threats from Zhang, according to a previous South China Morning Post report. The police were not said to have intervened in these cases and it was not known if they were made aware.

READ: Inside the rooftop playground of Zhang Biqing

Zhang, who has reportedly rubbed shoulders with officials and celebrities, refused to demolish the villa despite orders to.

However, on Tuesday, Zhang told reporters he had spent a total of 6 million yuan (HK$7.5 million) to both build and now dismantle the 400 square metre structure. Dismantling operations had been going on for one year, he said.

Pictures of the villa went viral online after the Beijing Morning Post first reported on the structure. It took six years to build, media reports said, and was covered by fake rocks and foliage.

But it has caused a headache even in its decimation. Construction has damaged the waterproof layer of the apartment building, causing leaks in apartments on the top floor, according to the Beijing newspaper.

Zhang assured that the construction team was working on restoring the building.