They worked together on the series "The Three-Body Problem", and then one poisoned the other. Now he faces the death penalty

Juliette Morgan
They worked together on the series "The Three-Body Problem", and then one poisoned the other. Now he faces the death penalty

Everyone is talking about the Netflix series "The Three-Body Problem" now - and not only because of the plot on the screen, but because of the real-life drama: lawyer and team leader who worked on it, Xu Yao, killed billionaire producer Lin Qi, and in a sophisticated way . He poisoned him with a cocktail of poisons, for the production of which he equipped an entire laboratory. There are gloomy jokes online that this is the perfect black PR, and Spltnk figured out what exactly led to the tragedy .

 Линь Ци/Фото: Yoozoo Games
Линь Ци/Фото: Yoozoo Games

The story of one series and several poisonings

On March 22, a Shanghai court sentenced Xu Yao to death, finding him guilty of murdering the chief producer of the series “The Three Body Problem,” Chinese billionaire and founder of Youzoo Interactive Lin Qi. The story of this murder, in terms of plot development and intensity of intrigue, can easily compete with the plot of the series itself, which was released just a day before the poisoner was sentenced.

This story began ten years ago, in 2014: then the Chinese billionaire and owner of a large video game manufacturer Lin Qi decided to buy out the copyrights and licenses for the popular science fiction book “The Three-Body Problem” and two other books from the “Memory of Earth's past" by Chinese writer Liu Cixin. The books tell the story of an engineer who is called upon by Chinese authorities to look into a string of scientist suicides. During the investigation, the main character discovered a conspiracy on an interplanetary scale. The title of the novel refers the reader to the three-body problem, one of the analytically unsolvable problems of celestial mechanics.

"Память о прошлом Земли"/Фото: Fanzon
"Память о прошлом Земли"/Фото: Fanzon

According to Lin Qi's idea, this trilogy was supposed to become a giant franchise with its own cinematic universe, like Star Wars. It is worth noting that he had every chance of success - the English version of The Three-Body Problem became a real sensation in the world of literature: in 2014 it received the main award in the field of science fiction - the Hugo Award. It was on Mark Zuckerberg's reading list, and Barack Obama called the book a fascinating read in an interview with The New York Times.

After the success of the book in the United States, the Netflix platform became interested in the project, which attracted the creators of the most successful TV series of our time, “Game of Thrones,” David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, for the film adaptation. The problem was that in 2008, the rights to “The Three-Body Problem” were already bought by Tencent Corporation, which also had plans to film a series. Solving this problem required not only the money that Lin Qi had, but also a good lawyer. This is exactly what the most stellar young lawyer from Shanghai, Xu Yao, became, educated in France and the USA and taking on the most difficult cases.

Скриншот трейлера к сериалу
Скриншот трейлера к сериалу "Задача трёх тел"/Фото: YouTube

Xu Yao spent a total of at least 10 million dollars on solving these issues, but Lin Qi was so pleased with the result of this work that he appointed him head of the companies created specifically for him: The Three Body Universe, Youzu Pictures and Trisolaris. In addition, he promised to pay him $2.76 million annually for his work.

Everything should have worked out in the best possible way, but it quickly became obvious that the lawyer was not doing his job well: his companies were supposed to provide legal support for transactions and develop media projects related to the series. But there was a terrible toxic atmosphere in his companies, and there was a breakdown in communication with the Netflix platform. Lin Qi did not fire his lawyer, but cut his salary four times. The lawyer is said to have been offended that his name was not mentioned during the Netflix deal. Then Xu Yao began to hatch a plan for revenge.

Скриншот трейлера к сериалу
Скриншот трейлера к сериалу "Задача трёх тел"/Фото: YouTube

According to the Chinese business publication Kaixin, which was quoted by Kommersant, his favorite TV series, Breaking Bad, inspired him to take revenge. In it, the main character, a chemistry teacher who fell ill with cancer, set up a laboratory at home, in which, among other things, he prepared poison to fight enemies.

Inspired by the movie character, Xu Yao set up his laboratory and began experimenting with various substances purchased on the darknet through a fictitious company, in particular mercury and puffer fish poison. To cover his tracks, Xu Yao purchased 160 phones.

He also tested his poisons on animals. Then it was the turn of the people: from September to December 2020, he began to poison everyone with whom he had conflicts. Four company employees were injured but managed to survive.

Кадр из сериала
Кадр из сериала "Задача трёх тел"/Фото: Netflix

Lin Qi was not so lucky. According to some data cited by the Caixin publication, Xu Yao mixed methylmercury chloride - a super-toxic substance that is fatal if swallowed, inhaled or touched - into various drinks (coffee, whiskey and plain water), and brought them to office. According to other information, the poison was in the “advanced nutritional supplement” that Xu Yao treated his enemies to.

Lin Qi felt unwell on December 16, 2020. He was taken to a hospital in Shanghai. Doctors immediately determined that it was poisoning: at least five different toxins were found in his blood, including mercury compounds and traces of puffer fish poison. He received 40 blood transfusions, but this did not help save him. Nine days later he died.

On Wednesday evening, the Shanghai Public Security Bureau posted a statement on its official Weibo social media account: “On December 17, 2020, at 5:00 p.m., the police received a call from the hospital about a patient named Lin. During treatment at the hospital, it was determined that the patient was poisoned. After the call, the police began an investigation. Based on the results of investigations at the scene and subsequent interviews, the police determined that the suspect named Xu, who is a colleague of the victim Lin, was most likely the culprit. Suspect Xu was arrested, and the investigation is ongoing."

Death penalty for poisoning

On March 22, a Shanghai court sentenced Xu Yao to death. In general, the death penalty for murder is not at all uncommon in China, but the fact that Xu Yao did not admit his guilt and was himself a first-class lawyer gave hope that this case had not yet been put to rest. The Shanghai court released few details but called the poisoner's actions "extremely disgusting." The murder of 39-year-old Lin Qi has been called "as unimaginable as a Hollywood blockbuster." Court documents leaked to the Chinese press describe the story as a clash of deadly corporate ambitions with a "macabre twist."

The court ruling said 43-year-old Xu Yao acted intentionally and endangered "public safety." In addition, the court considered the motive for his crime to be “low, and the consequences to be serious.”

This was the reason for the most severe sentence. The accused can file an appeal, but whether he will exercise this right has not yet been announced. In his interview, Xu Yao said that he was afraid that his last thought would be: “How did I manage to destroy the Three Body Problem?”

The poisoning shocked the public, despite the fact that it happened on Christmas Eve. As David Benioff told The Hollywood Reporter, the murder is "definitely disheartening." "When you work in this business, you expect all sorts of problems to arise. Poisoning your boss isn't usually one of them," he said.

Police arrested Xu Yao as early as December 18, 2020, the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court said on its official WeChat account, announcing the verdict and punishment. As noted, Xu Yao refused to admit to committing the crime and did not say what kind of poison he used, which complicated the doctors' efforts to save Lin Qi's life.

Trailer for the series "The Three Body Problem"/YouTube

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