Several Chinese attendees who paid thousands of dollars to see Elon Musk at a magazine launch event in New York City were left disappointed after a look-alike appeared instead.
Over 120 Chinese attendants reportedly attended the event at the James Hotel in Manhattan on April 27, reported the South China Morning Post.
The launch was hosted by Gary Kong, president of the Sino American Commerce Association, a not-for-profit corporation in Flushing that promotes the U.S.-China relationship. The event was held to celebrate the release of the first issue of Wall St. Magazine.
Many attendees expected to meet Musk in person after his attendance was mentioned in a press release.
Later that evening, a man resembling the billionaire arrived at the hotel’s ballroom with bodyguards. Soon after the presentation, many people crowded over the man to take pictures.
However, Chinese attendees were left disappointed and embarrassed after several people pointed out that the man they met was nothing more than a Musk doppelganger.
Chinese Twitter page @AsiaFinance shared a picture of the look-alike from the event.
A woman from mainland China who reportedly spent over a month in the U.S. “just to meet Musk” poured out her frustration in a video uploaded to Chinese social media about how the magazine launch event “deceived” attendees.
“[This event] has received a lot of attention in China, but it’s unexpected that the person who showed up in the end was fake,” the woman said in the video, according to SCMP. “It’s unacceptable to cheat Chinese people like this, Chinese people deceiving Chinese people is too much.”
Gao Weiwei, another guest, shared her experience at the launch party in a video uploaded to Weibo.
“Never in our wildest dreams did we think it was a fake Musk. When I saw him in person, I thought: ‘Hey, that doesn’t look like Musk,’ I just thought that maybe he looks a little different in real life,” she said.
The press release read: “Sir Gary Kong, Chairman Wall St Magazine announces Elon Musk Launch cover appearance party is scheduled on April 27 in Manhattan.”
A screenshot of the invitation that made rounds on Chinese media purportedly showed that the organizers had seemingly invited “many entrepreneurs” for the event, including Musk. The invitation was signed by a publisher named Michael Jacobson.
Other screenshots circulating online in China showed an alleged correspondence between Jacobson and Musk’s team regarding the April 27 invitation. In one of the emails, a representative for Musk apologized and said the tech billionaire could not come to the party as they were understaffed and that the SpaceX CEO “stayed longer in Washington, D.C.”
Speaking to SCMP, Kong said he, too, was expecting to see Musk at the April event despite being stood up by the billionaire for another party on March 23.
He explained that the highlight of the launch party was focused on Musk being on the cover of the magazine and not his attendance at the event. Kong also said the invitation was not a guarantee that attendees would get to meet Musk at the gathering.
Kong said that the audience “probably didn’t understand,” explaining that the fake’s arrival on stage was for “entertainment” value. He added that an unnamed investor who was unaware of the cultural differences between the U.S. and China brought the Musk look-alike.
At a press conference two days later, Annie Fu, the founding president of the Sino American Commerce Association, noted that they did not organize the event nor did they expect to receive backlash after the party.
“All I can say is that this was [a result of] the differences between Chinese and Western cultures,” Fu said.
A press release dated April 29 confirmed that the Musk look-alike was invited as part of the “event entertainment,” stating that the guests “enjoyed his participation.”
Kong also addressed an image of an alleged invoice paid by an unidentified attendee amounting to $10,000.
He claimed the magazine launch party was free and that no attendees had approached nor complained to him or the authorities about paying for the event.