Chinese ‘rare wood investor’ pays 1.68 million yuan for common lumber

Victim believed he was buying highly prized ‘gold nanmu’. Instead, he got a log that bought three years ago for 200 yuan

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 February, 2017, 4:15pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 February, 2017, 4:15pm

A man in southeastern China has been accused of passing off a log of ordinary timber as a rare collectors’ species which he sold for 1.68 million yuan (US$245,000), local media reports.

The suspect, from Wenzhou in Zhejiang province, bought the log for only 200 yuan three years ago, the Qianjiang Evening News reported citing local police.

The victim, a businessman who was keen to invest in rare timber, heard that the suspect owned a log of “gold nanmu” and visited his home to inspect the timber that was a metre wide and five metres long.

Nanmu is a generic name for more than 30 varieties of fine grained and durable softwoods that are traditionally prized for boatbuilding and architectural woodworking. Some have intricate knots favoured in fine furniture.

The large subtropical evergreens grow south of the Yangtze River as far as Hainan and Vietnam.

The businessmen said he agreed to the hefty price after the suspect presented him with a “certificate” saying the timber was precious.

About six months later, an industry insider told the buyer that the wood he bought was just a common species. He reported the matter to police when he was unable to contact the suspect.

Police later identified the timber he bought and said it was worth about 10,000 yuan.