Italian luxury automaker Ferrari has apologized for causing damage to a 600-year-old Ming-dynasty-era wall, after one of its cars seared tire marks into the ancient Chinese landmark, the BBC reports.
As an element of what was intended as a publicity stunt, a special-edition Ferrari was filmed spinning, screeching and performing “drifts” atop the centuries-old monument in the former imperial capital of Nanjing on Sunday night. The exhibition was supposed to be a part of a greater celebration marking the 20th anniversary of the Italian company’s entry into the Chinese market, according to China’s official news agency, Xinhua, but the footage sparked public outrage and forced the company to cancel the commemoration.
Web users condemned the stunt as an insult to Chinese culture, blaming Chinese city officials after reports surfaced that authorities allegedly charged Ferrari $12,000 for use of the landmark. “A [$950,000] Ferrari vs. a 600-year-old ancient city wall … What are the Nanjing authorities doing? So sad,” microblogger Fei Baobei posted.
Local officials insist a deal was never agreed upon with the luxury-car company. “No enterprise or individual is allowed to use the city ramparts in Nanjing for commercial purposes,” Nanjing Cultural Relics Bureau captain Wu Jing told the BBC.
Though Ferrari has apologized for the incident, the Italian company denies that it was a part of the publicity stunt and faults a local dealership’s employee for fooling around and causing the damages.
The word Ferrari has now been blocked from Chinese microblogs like Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, in what some see as an effort to control criticism of government officials amid a widening divide between China’s rich and poor.