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Chinese socialite's fall from grace capped with salacious televised confession

By Zhang Dayu and Katie Hunt, CNN
August 6, 2014 -- Updated 1942 GMT (0342 HKT)
Guo Meimei has almost two million followers on social media.
Guo Meimei has almost two million followers on social media.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Guo Meimei is one of China's most high-profile social media celebrities
  • Socialite made a startling televised confession this week after her arrest last month
  • She detailed a life of illicit sex and gambling

(CNN) -- A televised confession this week detailing a life of illegal gambling and paid-for sex has capped the dramatic fall from grace of one of China's most high-profile social media celebrities and socialites.

Guo Meimei, 23, best known for showing off her wealth, looks and extravagant lifestyle on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter, appeared on state television without make up and in orange prison garb after being detained by police last month for operating an illegal gambling den.

Guo said that she also made money by working as a call girl. She told police she would charge no less than 100,000 yuan ($17,400) for every encounter.

"I'm really not short of those who want to keep me as mistress," she said.

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"There are many who would spend money to sleep with me for a night, no matter the price."

Guo's Weibo account, which has almost two million followers, shows pictures of her posing by a jet ski in a bikini, and by a Lamborghini.

She was also starring in a film about her life called "I am Guo Meimei." Guo invested in the project herself and production began last year.

It was careless posts to her followers that tipped off police about her illicit activities. Last month, she was arrested for breaching China's strict gambling laws after boasting about her winnings from betting on World Cup matches.

She also admitted operating an illegal gambling venue at a one-room apartment in Beijing with her ex-boyfriend.

Guo's startling confession has been splashed over front pages and gossip magazines but critics have warned that her trial by media may be premature, given that she has not yet appeared in court.

Some social media users said her case was being used to draw attention away from bad news stories such as an earthquake in southwestern China and a deadly factory explosion.

She first gained notoriety in 2011 after she posted photos of herself posing with luxury sports cars and designer bags on a Weibo account that identified her as a commercial general manager for the Chinese Red Cross.

Her ostentatious photos sparked widespread outrage about how a charity worker could sustain such a lavish lifestyle, leading to a big drop off in donations the following year, even though the Red Cross denied any connection with Guo.

READ: Red Cross in credibility crisis

In her confession, Guo apologized to the Red Cross and the public for fabricating her affiliation with the charity.

"Because of my vanity, I've made a very big mistake", she said.

"I'd like to sincerely apologize to Red Cross, also to the people and especially to those who need to receive help but haven't."

On Monday, the charity called on donors to "please forget Guo Meimei" and provide help to people affected by the earthquake in Yunnan that has killed almost 600 people.

READ: China's netizens not always on side of justice

Zhang Dayu reported from Beijing, Katie Hunt wrote from Hong Kong

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