The Rise And Fall Of “The Most Commercially Valuable Celebrity”

This is what caused his downfall.

Li Yifeng (also known as Evan Lee) is a former top Chinese actor and singer. He experienced a meteoric rise and fall when it comes to his career, seeing the highest and lowest points of being a celebrity in China.

The Rise

From 2014 to 2022, he was an A-list celebrity earning millions of dollars. Li Yifeng first became famous for starring in the fantasy drama Sword of Legends (2014). As a hint to how popular he’ll eventually be, he became the first male actor to win the Newcomer Award at the 2014 Elle Style Awards.


He grew in popularity thanks to the next two shows in his career: Legend of Fragrance, a period drama about the rivalry between two prominent families in the fragrance industry…


…and The Lost Tomb, an action drama about tomb raiders.


His role in the film Mr. Six earned him critical success as well as the “Best Supporting Actor” award at the 33rd Hundred Flowers Awards.

He quickly began collecting high profile endorsements with brands such as BOSS, Prada, and more. He ventured into modeling as well and soon became a household name.


Needless to say, 2015 was the major breakthrough year for him. He entered the Forbes Chinese Celebrity list for the first time because of his high salary, earning an astounding 69 million yuan (10.5 million USD at the time), making him the 9th richest celebrity that year.

He was so influential, in fact, that he was given the title “The Most Commercially Valuable Celebrity” by CBN Weekly.


The Fall

Unfortunately for him, the high part of his career soon ended. On September 11, 2022, Li Yifeng shocked China when he was suddenly detained by police in Beijing. They took him in for the crime of soliciting prostitutes on multiple occasions.

According to the report posted on the Weibo account of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, he was arrested under criminal charges and had confessed to the crime. It was breaking news that spread like wildfire in China, with the hashtag “Beijing Police Informs that Li Yifeng Solicited Prostitutes” gaining three billion views in just a few hours.


He began losing brand deals at an alarming rate. The likes of Prada, Panerai, Remy Martin and L’Oréal Paris, Luk Fook Jewelry, Sensodyne and more all terminated their contracts with him due to the bad press that he was receiving.


Award shows and organizations also began distancing themselves from the disgraced actor. The Mid-Autumn Festival Gala on CCTV that had earlier announced his attendance had rescinded their invitation. Besides this, China’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate, a national agency responsible for legal prosecution which had previously worked with him, also deleted all traces of him from their Weibo account.


Li Yifeng later published an emotional letter emphasizing that the rumors circulating about him caused emotional damage to himself and affected all of his businesses.

I hope Li Yifeng will live on in his film and television work, will live responsibly and will also live in the social responsibility of today’s youth, instead of living among lawsuits and fighting against malicious rumors.

 Li Yifeng


His social media accounts were suspended soon afterwards as he had been proven guilty of commiting the crime.

Source: Global Times

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