Gates rent of rooftop courtyard 'not true'

2008-07-24 23:40:29 GMT       2008-07-25 07:40:29 (Beijing Time)       China Daily

The highlighted part of the picture shows the courtyard houses on the roof of Pangu Plaza. [China Daily]

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has denied reports by Chinese media that retired Microsoft founder Bill Gates paid 100 million yuan ($17.4 million) for a rooftop courtyard overlooking the Olympic Green.

"While the foundation does not have details to share about Bill Gates' personal trip to attend the Beijing Olympics, we can confirm that this information is not true," the foundation's media team said in a statement Thursday.

The multibillionaire was in New York on Wednesday promoting a fresh worldwide anti-smoking campaign with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

A story in a Chengdu-based tabloid quoted sales personnel at the Pangu Plaza high-profile business complex close to the central Olympic area, as saying that Gates paid an exorbitant annual lease for a bird's eye view of the iconic Olympic venues.

The Pangu Plaza media manager told China Daily that their organization is expressly forbidden to reveal client information.

"This is typical tabloid reporting," the manager said. "We are simply unable either to confirm or refute it."

The dragon-shaped Pangu Plaza has drawn media attention due to its proximity to Olympic showpieces such as the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube. The site of 34 media organization studios also acted as host to opening ceremony director Zhang Yimou and special effects designer Cai Guoqiang, who observed preparations at the Bird's Nest from the Pangu tower roof.

Readers of the Chengdu tabloid also doubt the veracity of the item it reported.

"It must be fabricated. This doesn't seem like Bill Gates' style at all," Teddy Wu, who works at an IT firm, commented.

"It's probably a soft advertisement for the building."

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