Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau buys $69 million diamond for 7-year-old daughter

17 November 2015 / 1 year 2 weeks ago

Nurulnadiah Md Noh and Chew Hui Min
The Straits Times
Tuesday, Nov 17, 2015

Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau spent a record US$48.4 million (S$69 million) on a 12.03-carat diamond for his 7-year-old daughter in an auction on Wednesday in Geneva, according to his spokesman.

Just the day before, the 64-year-old property magnate known as "Big Liu" spent US$28.5 million for a rare 16.08-carat pink diamond from auction house Christie's.

The two diamonds were renamed 'Blue Moon Of Josephine' and 'Sweet Josephine', respectively, after his daughter with girlfriend Chan Hoi-wan.

This is not the first time Mr Lau is making headlines. Here are five things about the tycoon:

1. He has a net worth of US$10.2 billion

Standing at #114 in Forbes' Billionaires (2015) list, Mr Lau has a net worth of US$10.2 billion, according to Forbes. He is also the sixth richest person in Hong Kong.

He started out as a ceiling fan manufacturer in 1978. His company was so successful it was listed on the stock market by 1983, and he earned his first $100 million before he turned 30.

He then turned to the stock market and property to expand his fortune.

Mr Lau owns three quarters of Chinese Estates, the ninth-largest Hong Kong's largest real estate investors.

He is said to own a Sunseeker yacht and a few planes, including a Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet.

His eldest son, Lau Ming-wai, took over his post as chairman and acting CEO of Chinese Estates Holdings after he was sentenced to jail for bribery in Macau.

2. He escaped jail time

In 2014, Mr Lau and fellow high-profile Hong Kong businessman Steven Lo were found guilty of bribing a former minister in Macau in an attempt to purchase a prime development site in the former Portuguese colony.

They were both sentenced to five years and three months in prison. Both men pleaded not guilty and neither was in court to hear the verdict.

However, the absence of an extradition treaty between Hong Kong and Macau means they are unlikely to serve time.

3. He is a generous father

Mr Lau knows that diamonds are a girl's best friend. Josephine, his youngest daughter, already has an impressive jewellery collection thanks to him.

In 2009, Mr Lau purchased a 7.03-carat blue diamond for US$9.48 million. He called it the "Star Of Josephine".

Last year, the doting father bought pieces of jewellery for his other 13-year-old daughter with long-time partner Yvonne Lui, Zoe.

He paid US$32.6 million for a 9.75-carat 'Zoe Diamond', and HK$65 million (S$11.9 million) for a 'Zoe Red' ruby.

4. He collects art

Mr Lau started collecting artwork more than 30 years ago, and is known for his collection of modern and contemporary art. He especially likes Andy Warhol's work.

He has made several important purchases including an iconic portrait of Mao by Warhol for US$17.3 million at Christie's New York in 2006; and Paul Gauguin's Te Poipoi, which he bought for US$39.2 million at Sotheby's in 2007.

He also purchased Roy Lichtenstein's The Ring (Engagement) for US$41.7 million, just a day after purchasing Pablo Picasso's Buste de femme across town at Christie's for US$67.4 million.

5. He "collects" beauty queens too

Mr Lau has a total of six children from three different women - Chan, Lui and ex-wife Bo Wing Kam.

The tycoon has been linked to a bevy of beauties in the past, including former Miss Hong Kong winners Michele Reis and Ada Choi, and actress Rosamund Kwan.

In 2008, Mr Lau became involved in an alleged love triangle with his girlfriend, former Miss Hong Kong semi-finalist Lui and his assistant Chan.

Chan reportedly moved into a posh apartment in the monied Mid-Levels with a market value of HK$60 million, amid talk that she was having a baby with her boss.

After the birth of the baby, Lui, who had appeared to be taking things well, suddenly told the press that Chan's baby was not his. He struck back by cancelling Lui's credit cards.

Sources: The Straits Times Archives, Forbes, International Business Times, Larry's List, CNN, South China Morning Post, Evening Standard


This article was first published on Nov 17, 2015. 
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