EL0NMUSK, BAD G1RL: In Hong Kong, personalized license car plates are a coveted luxury

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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 all quite a lot of chosen automobile 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 identified 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 file 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 customized automobile plates, which happen frequently, go straight to the Hong Kong authorities’s Treasury.

For automotive house owners, the self-importance plates can carry private that 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 “dying,” 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 “customized automobile 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 house owners can create plates of as much as eight characters (together with areas) however can’t embrace the letters “I,” “O” and “Q.” As soon as the mark is cleared, it must be purchased by way of public sale.

The 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 lately 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" spotted on a Hong Kong highway.

“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 purple 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 house owners to spotlight their standing, wealth, humor, needs, superstitions and even their favourite meals,” Salati says.

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

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

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


A lot of eyebrow-raising customized plates have additionally been noticed on Teslas racing across the metropolis including “BEAVER,” “MR XXL” and the relatively cheeky “PASS GAS.”

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

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

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