(Yicai Global) May 23 -- A Chinese student's purchase of a luxury property in Vancouver for a record CAD31.1 million (almost USD24 million) has triggered intense interest in China over the person's identity.
The new majority owner of the Point Grey mansion, sold by Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. founder Mr. Peter Brown earlier this year, is Zhou Tianyu, who is listed on property records as a 'student.' Nothing else is known about the buyer's identity. The deal set a record for the highest price paid for a home in the western Canadian city so far this year.
In a claim that was subsequently disproven, one blogger speculated that the buyer is the son of China's central bank chief Mr. Zhou Xiaochuan.
The Beijing-based Mirror newspaper contacted Mr. Dan Scarrow, managing director of Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre, who said he could not comment on specific transactions, but did say that it is quite common for Chinese students to buy luxury homes in Canada.
As the Canadian government does not collect gift or inheritance tax, parents can easily buy or transfer assets through their children. Mr. Scarrow believes that is likely the case with Zhou Tianyu. Ms. Cherry Xu, the deal's broker, declined an interview with the Mirror for reasons of privacy.
One in three property buyers in Vancouver last year were Chinese citizens, according to statistics released by National Bank of Canada. Chinese investors spent a total of CAD12.7 billion (USD9.6 billion) on property in Vancouver in 2015, accounting for 33 percent of total sales in the city, Mr. Peter Routledge, a financial analyst at the bank, wrote in a March report.
One Capital, a personal social media website, claimed the student buyer was not a man, but a female musician studying in Canada, citing a report in the Beijing Morning Post from Oct. 30, 2013, when Zhou Tianyu was 19 years old. According to the report, she started playing piano at age four, moved to Toronto at nine, and was a student at the Royal Art School.
The young lady in question responded through her own social media account, saying "some friends saw the report and asked me if I bought the CAD31.1 million house. I just to make it clear that I did not."
Mr. Brown, the mansion's former owner, is a celebrity figure in Vancouver, a well-known philanthropist, and currently chairs the Vancouver Police Foundation. According to the Vancouver Sun, Mr. Brown and his wife have major influence in local political, business and charity circles. The property's sale also has become a controversial issue in Vancouver. In 1983, the Browns paid CAD2.5 million for the mansion, which was listed for sale at CAD22 million in June 2015.