Known in New York society as a top facilitator of networking between Chinese and New York business and cultural elites, Wendi Deng Murdoch took a moment to chat with Jing Daily at the inaugural Berggruen Prize Award Gala on December 1, sharing her thoughts on her recent film Sky Ladder and good friend Ivanka Trump’s China connections.
As the producer of Sky Ladder, the recently released Netflix documentary about Cai Guo-Qiang, she weighed in on why she was inspired to make the film about the high-profile artist, who was also present at the gala. “I love his story about his life—how he struggled to become successful; what his success is; how he continues challenging himself,” she said, also noting that she is impressed by his respect for his family and the elderly generations.
“He is Chinese, but his art is more international,” she said, noting that he’s been based in New York for 15 years.
She also commented on why she finds it important to facilitate introductions between the New York and Chinese business worlds, which she does through famous dumpling dinners where she gathers luminaries from China, the United States, and more. For example, a recent 20-person gathering included Chinese investment banker Fan Bao, Ivanka Trump’s brother-in-law Josh Kushner, and Uber executive Dave Clark.
She talked about her role as a bridge between Chinese and New York elites, stating, “I am from China and love my country. I live in New York, have many friends, businesspeople in New York, including Ivanka and her husband.” Her friendship with Ivanka Trump recently made the news when the two were photographed together sightseeing in Croatia this August.
“I would love to connect people, and my friends come over here for dinner or [to] meet local people and [discuss] business. I love to do that, and I will continue to do that,” she said, adding, “I think the more understanding the better.”
When asked about which business elites she’s been able to introduce to the Trump family—or if she plans on any in the future, she demurred, stating she’d have to ask them first. “I’ve got to be careful about what I say,” she said.
As the founder of online art platform Artsy, she was much more open about Ivanka Trump’s interest in Chinese culture and art, stating, “she and her husband are art collectors. They bought many amazing contemporary artists’ art, but also some Chinese art, as well.”
In contrast to Donald Trump’s harsh rhetoric on China, Murdoch believes Ivanka has a much more positive view toward the country. Up until last year, Ivanka licensed her brand to a jewelry store in Beijing and had a Weibo presence with 19,000 followers (which was recently deleted). Her clothing line was also shown to be produced in China despite Donald Trump’s campaign trail rhetoric against American companies manufacturing in China.
“Ivanka traveled to China before, many times,” said Murdoch, who mentioned Trump’s Instagram post of her daughter speaking Chinese. “Everybody loves that. I think it is so sweet,” she said, adding, “people love her in China.”