Guo Meimei is not a name that has much resonance in the West. But in Asia, the baby-faced £30,000-a-night mistress, scandalmonger and social media phenomenon, has been tabloid fodder for several years.
Last night, the 23-year-old who was once painted as the ultimate Maserati-driving seductress was splashed across Chinese TV in orange prison overalls, in a disturbing "confession" broadcast on China's CCTV from prison.
"I have the vain mindset of a little girl," she sobbed during the apology, which the Times reported was ordered from the very highest ranks of China's communist party.
“I have no shortage of men who wanted me as their mistress, there are many people who want to sleep with me for a night, for any price.
"I was once paid 50,000 yuan by one man into my bank account. He gave me another 300,000 Hong Kong dollars to me. We had sexual relations the first time I arrived. I flew back to Beijing the next day and he bought me the plane ticket. He gave me another 110,000 yuan into my account after I returned home.”
Guo had become a figure of envy but also of mystery from when she first surfaced on China's Weibo social network in 2011 as "Baby Guo Meimei", claiming to work as a general manager for a organisation affiliated with the state-run Red Cross Society. But her flamboyant lifestyle seemed inconsistent, to say the least, with a humble charity worker.
She posted pictures of Hermes handbags, posed pictures of her sprawling across her Maserati, and described her luxurious villa in Beijing. She took pictures with towers of casino chips in a Macau casino, in a skimpy bikini on a jet ski, and a screenshot of her enormous bank balance.
Strikingly beautiful, controversial and outspoken, she drew social media followers by the lorry-load, many who came to gawp at her apparent excesses and condemn her for what they assumed was embezzlement of charitable funds. Many wrote comments on her page, saying they would never again give money to the charity she claimed to be affiliated with.
But she never was.
Rumours spread that Guo was the daughter of Guo Changjiang, vice president of Red Cross Society of China. But Guo Changjiang said he did not even have a daughter. Suddenly, her Weibo account was changed, denying any connection with the Society apart from some advertising work. Her account then disappeared, days before the Red Cross Society reported her to police.
Chinese media, and Chinese authorities, started digging up dirt. Guo was said to be the girlfriend of a married key Red Cross Society benefactor Wang Jun, and to have links to an organisation called "Red Cross Commerce". Guo eventually admitted that entire organisation was a fabrication, blaming her "younger sister" who no one has been given any reason to believe exists at all.
The Times reported that donations plunged to Red Cross Society of China, who had to begin a social media campaign called 'Forget about Guo Meimei'.
In a statement, the charity called for an end to the speculation, and said it desperately needed funds to help aid people affected by the earthquake in southern China's Yunnan province, which claimed more than 380 lives.
“We have some colleagues who are packing up their bags to rush over to the earthquake disaster zone, other colleagues have spent the entire night organising more relief supplies," the Sydney Morning Herald translated.
“With so many people and places that we need to focus on, let’s look at the real facts and take a breath. Please forget her; we need to get operational again.”
Her reputation, such as she had one, was in tatters, and the Chinese anti-corruption squad was on her case, Guo apparently got herself into gambling trouble. Long an embarrassment to the Chinese government who have made a show of a harsh crackdown on corruption, Guo and her boyfriend were eventually arrested for running an illegal casino in Beijing during the FIFA World Cup.
But her weeping confession perhaps signifies that the embarrassment she caused to the state-run charity and businessmen means she will be made to pay for far more than that particular offence.