A luxury home in Penticton listed for sale at $12.8 million has sparked many racist comments, including a threatening email against the realtors who listed the property.
The house, located at 587 Vancouver Avenue, listed by Kevin Chen and Matt Zhang from Vancouver-based Oakwyn Realty, has been on the market for almost a year now.
However, it wasn’t until the home was featured by the online Vancouver news publication Daily Hive that Chen and Zhang began to draw the ire of some locals.
Since the Daily Hive story ran in December 2020, Chen and Zhang have been subject to a slew of racist and hateful comments and remarks from Penticton locals.
In one case, an email sent directly to Chen Saturday, April 24, suggested that he “should be shot,” alleged he was involved in money laundering and threatened “dire consequences” should he not return to China.
Chen, who grew up in Canada and is originally from Taiwan, said he was taken aback by the email but not shocked considering the amount of anti-Asian racism seen in Canada recently.
Chen reported the email to the Penticton RCMP but so far no progress has been made on contacting the person who made the threats, according to Zhang. The Western News has reached out to the Penticton RCMP for more information but, has not yet received a response.
Zhang, who has also lived in Canada his entire life, said the email is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the racist and hateful sentiments they’ve had thrown at them since the Daily Hive story ran.
The racism is particularly perplexing to Zhang considering the home’s current owner is a Caucasian, Canadian man.
“We were just selected to list the house for him and ever since we listed it, if you look at the comments on the Daily Hive story, it’s been all racist comments,” Zhang said.
Zhang also noted that as realtors he and Chen are obligated to verify they are not dealing with potential money launderers through the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada.
“At the end of the day, we’re just the agents who are listing it. The owner is Canadian and we have verified the source. The client wanted to sell his dream home, and we’re here to market it to our best ability, it’s as simple as that,” Zhang said.
Anti-Asian racism has been on the rise in Canada since the start of the pandemic. In Vancouver, police data shows anti-Asian hate crimes have risen by 717 per cent since the start of the pandemic.
“Even since COVID, the surging racism in Vancouver and Canada has been insane,” Zhang said. “Honestly, at first, I just feel bad for those people (who make racist comments).
“It’s like ‘what did someone from my race do to you to make you assume all these terrible things about us?’ It’s just so unnecessary.”
Zhang said he understands if the property isn’t for everyone.
“It’s overkill but in the best ways possible, but if you think it’s too much just say that. Not everyone thinks the Mona Lisa is beautiful and that’s okay.
When you start bringing race into it and all these negative stigmas toward a certain race and just assuming that this person is Chinese and has dirty, laundered money, that’s where you cross the line… you’re just assuming those things because it’s expensive.”
The house is described as being “more like a boutique hotel than a residential home” and features seven patios spanning over 2,500 square feet, over $1 million worth of marble, over $1 million of custom furniture and an emerald green marble garage with a custom vehicle turntable.
“With 587 Vancouver Avenue, you’re not only purchasing a property, you’re buying a landmark, an architectural masterpiece with a priceless view,” reads the home’s website.
The home has received international recognition, including being one of the front runners for 2020’s “best luxury property international” and “best luxury property Canada” by the U.K.-based Design El Al Awards magazine.
“Everything in this house is designed with a level of detail that I’ve never seen in Canada,” Zhang said. “It’s one of those houses you really have to visit and see in person in order to appreciate it.”
To see more pictures and find out more about the property at 587 Vancouver Ave., visit the website for the listing at 587vancouver.com.