Chinese Billionaire Falls to His Death Climbing a Wall for a Picture in France

Chinese billionaire Wang Jian fell to his death in France while taking photos of the scenery.

Wang, the 57-year-old chairman and co-founder of one of China’s largest conglomerates HNA, was visiting the village of Bonnieux in France’s Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region during the tragic accident on Tuesday morning.

Police reports revealed that Wang, along with four other people and a tour guide, climbed up onto a wall which overlooked a church to capture some pictures, Guardian reports.  

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Local police chief Hubert Meriaux told Reuters that Wang was trying to get his family to take a picture of him on top of the wall when he lost his balance and fell. Local sources say the height of the drop was between 12 meters (39 feet) and 15 meters (49 feet).

Police said they were not treating his death as suspicious as his travel companions told authorities that it was an accident.

HNA turned its website gray and released a short statement to mourn Wang’s passing:

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“HNA Group extends deepest condolences to Mr. Wang’s family and many friends. Together, we mourn the loss of an exceptionally gifted leader and role model, whose vision and values will continue to be a beacon for all who had the good fortune to know him, as well as for the many others whose lives he touched through his work and philanthropy.”

Wang, who owned a 15% stake of the HNA Group at the time of his passing, was estimated by Bloomberg last year to be worth more than $5 billion. He was also instrumental in turning HNA into one of the world’s most active investment companies.

His death is a significant loss to the firm which has been divesting assets as it tries to tame its debt of more than $90 billion.

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As one of China’s most indebted companies, HNA is now part of a group of “gray rhinos,” high-risk companies which government regulators see as potential threats to the Chinese economy.

Despite the local police ruling out foul play, Wang’s death sparked the emergence of several conspiracy theories on social media as it came about a month after HNA publicly denied rumors that the firm’s other co-founder Chen Feng had died.

Featured Image via (Left) HNA Website, (Right) Twitter / ArtofWarm

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