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Hong Kong’s self-importance automotive plates are a coveted luxurious that may promote for tens of millions at public sale

Written by Kristie Lu StoutJadyn Sham, CNNHong Kong

At a authorities public sale in Hong Kong, “EL0NMUSK” bought for the equal of $1,405.

The namesake of the headline-grabbing tech titan is one in every of quite a few chosen car license plates — together with “BAD G1RL,” “LATTE” and “SHADYB1Z” — that went underneath the hammer on the finish of January. The public sale’s highest bid went to “1 HH” for 115,000 Hong Kong {dollars} ($14,684).

It is a sizzling market. Hong Kong residents have been recognized to pay tens of millions of {dollars} for a coveted plate. In 2008, “18” — thought of a fortunate quantity in Cantonese — went for 16.5 million Hong Kong {dollars} ($2.1 million). Eight years later, “28” went for 18.1 million Hong Kong {dollars} ($2.3 million).

However the document was set in March 2021, when one bidder spent 26 million Hong Kong {dollars} ($3.3 million) for a plate with a single letter: “W.”

Watch: Hong Kong self-importance automotive plates can promote for tens of millions

A Transportation Division spokesperson instructed CNN that each one income from the auctions of personalised car plates, which happen usually, go straight to the Hong Kong authorities’s Treasury.

For automotive homeowners, the self-importance plates can carry private which means. Actual property tycoon Cecil Chao bought his, “CEC1L,” at a relative steal for simply over $20,000 Hong Kong {dollars} ($2,550 in 2007). It now graces his silver and burgundy Rolls Royce.

He additionally has a Bentley bearing his surname “CHAO” and a convertible Rolls Royce with “4” — an unfortunate quantity in Cantonese and Mandarin, because it appears like “loss of life,” however not for the Shanghai-born property developer.

“I used to be born in China, in Shanghai,” says Chao. “In Shanghainese, quantity 4 (appears like) ‘happiness’ — that is my philosophy of life.”

Since 2006, over 40,000 “personalised car registration marks” have been bought at public sale by the Hong Kong Transport Division, with costs beginning at round 5,000 Hong Kong {dollars} ($640).

events should first inquire whether or not their proposed mark meets the Transport Division’s necessities. Automobile homeowners can create plates of as much as eight characters (together with areas) however can’t embody the letters “I,” “O” and “Q.” As soon as the mark is cleared, it must be purchased through public sale.

Town’s self-importance plate phenomenon has sparked social media fan accounts like @HKnumberplates on Twitter, the place hunters share their favourite finds on-line utilizing the hashtag #HKnumberplates.
CNN not too long ago noticed a number of plates on the streets, together with a yellow Lamborghini with “SIN,” a black BMW with “DARKSIDE” and a white Porsche SUV with “CNN.”

“Are U 0K” noticed on a Hong Kong freeway. Credit score: Alex Dicker/CNN

Hong Kong-based artistic director Michele Salati, who launched the HKVANIT1ES mission three years in the past, considers “0K LA” as his private favourite. Extensively seen round city on an iconic crimson taxi, it was additionally the primary license plate he seen when he moved to the town seven years in the past.

“These self-importance plates are utilized by their homeowners to spotlight their standing, wealth, humor, wishes, superstitions and even their favourite meals,” Salati says.

“To me, every plate is sort of a line of poetry, racing via the streets of the town. I might see that it is a sort of poetry in movement.”

Salati’s on-line platform collects photographs of personalised plates and invitations customers to string them collectively into poetry.

He says he is gathered about 2,500 pictures and 300 poems for his platform, together with a rap by native artist Dough Boy (that later grew to become a music video) and a brief ode titled “TGIF” by a consumer named Tony:


Quite a few eyebrow-raising personalised plates have additionally been noticed on Teslas racing across the metropolis including “BEAVER,” “MR XXL” and the reasonably cheeky “PASS GAS.”

The brand new proprietor of the “EL0NMUSK” registration mark, and the make of their automotive, is at the moment unknown.

Prime picture caption: A yellow Lamborghini in Hong Kong sporting the license plate “SIN.” Illustration by Ian Berry, photographs by CNN/Adobe Inventory.

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