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July 4, 2012

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Famed artist's studio told to leave

THE rising rents in Tianzifang, a Shanghai art zone on Taikang Road, may force the studio and workshops of the late, renowned Chinese painter Chen Yifei to move.

The Shanghai Digital Industry (Group) Co, which leased three places in Tianzifang with a floor plan of more than 700 square meters, has filed a lawsuit to demand its properties back, claiming the leases it had signed with the Shanghai Chenyifei Construction Environment Art Co had expired, the Huangpu District People's Court heard yesterday.

The digital industry group said it signed three leases with the art company in 2011 and all of them had a valid period of 10 years from January 1, 2002 to December 31, 2011.

The digital group asked the art company to move the studio and return the properties, saying the contract ended last year. It admitted in court, however, that one contracts listed the end date as December 31, 2012.

"The mistake is a slip of the pen. It was clearly stated this is a 10-year contract," said Zhou Zhiming, lawyer representing the digital group.

Zhou said the art company still occupies 557 square meters of the property and refuses to return it.

Shan Baisong, a relative of Chen Yifei and chairman of the art company, said he wouldn't leave as he wanted to protect Chen's studio and workshops in heavily visited Tianzifang.

"I paid an annual rent of 450,000 yuan (US$70,826) in the last few years and I'm still paying them rent since January," Shan told the court.

Zhou confirmed the digital group received rent for January and February, but it didn't mean the group had agreed to renew the leases, let alone the price.

"The digital industry group can lease the house to anyone at its will," Zhou told Shanghai Daily.

The lessor is now demanding daily compensation of 336 yuan for illegal house occupation since the beginning of this year based on its new annual rents, the court heard.

Chen Yifei, one of China's renowned contemporary artists, was known for the high price quotations for his works. The painter also directed films.


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