Sunday, April 8, 2007

Wedded bli$$?

Who are the lucky few who marry into very, very rich families, and does money bring a happy-ever-after ending? A look at some celebrity-billionaire pairings.

Hong Kong actress Carina Lau, 41, for example, is rumoured to be caught in a love triangle with Taiwanese tech billionaire Terry Gou, 56, and long-time boyfriend, actor Tony Leung Chiu Wai, 44. Gou’s US$5.5bil (RM18.7bil) fortune puts him at No.142 on financial magazine Forbes’ latest rich list.

He is also the fifth-most eligible billionaire – after the likes of Google co-founders Sergey Brin, 33, and Larry Page, 34 – according to the magazine. (See sidebar.)

Carina Lau and Terry Gou ... are they for real?
Last month, after months of being spotted in public with Lau, the widowed Gou revealed to the press that he is eyeing Lau as a possible life partner, saying he is “serious” about the relationship.

In Hollywood, Mexican-born actress Salma Hayek, 40, recently announced her engagement to – and pregnancy by – Francois-Henri Pinault, 44, the French chief executive of luxury goods group PPR.

Josie Ho ... supportive of hubby.
His company owns brands from Gucci to Balenciaga, so she should be flush in couture for life. He also happens to be the son of retail billionaire Francois Pinault – age 70, US$14.5bil (RM49.3bil), No.34 on the Forbes list. Francois-Henri, however, isn’t on the list.

In Hong Kong, newlywed model Cathy Tsui, 24, and her husband Martin Lee Ka Shing, 35, are expecting a child too. He is not to be confused with Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka Shing – age 78, US$23bil (RM78.2bil), No.9 on the list.

But Martin Lee is very much a catch. He is the son of real estate billionaire Lee Shau Kee – age 79, US$17bil (RM57.8bil), No.22 on the list – whose fortune is second to just Li’s in Hong Kong.

Which other stars have married into serious money? Let’s take a look.

Taiwanese former screen goddess Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia, 52

Billionaire Spouse: She has two daughters with her husband of 13 years, Esprit Far East chairman Michael Ying, 57. The Hong Konger has a US$3.1bil (RM10.5bil) fortune, much of it from selling his shares in the clothing brand, and is at No.279 on the Forbes rich list.

Cathy Tsui ... feels lucky.
Happy Ever After?: Maybe not. Early in their marriage, the couple made a show of their wedded bliss. When Lin gave birth to a girl at age 41 in 1996, Ying named the baby Oi Lam, a Cantonese name which means “loving Lin”. Their second daughter, Yin Oi, was born in 2001 – in Cantonese, her full name is a pun on the phrase “still in love”.

By last year, however, rumours were rife that the couple were breaking up. Tabloids alleged that he was dating a divorcee from Shanghai and that his wife was moving out of the marital home. Lin stayed silent about the stories, but her friends denied the rumours.

But tabloids reported that she was seen dancing the night away with a younger man in a club in February.

Chinese-Australian actor Conroy Chan, 33, who appeared in his friend Daniel Wu’s 2006 mockumentary The Heavenly Kings, and in Jackie Chan’s 2006 movie Rob-B-Hood

Billionaire Spouse: Hong Kong actress-singer Josie Ho, 32, one of 17 children of Stanley Ho. The 85-year-old Macau casino king is worth US$7bil (RM23.8bil) and is No.104 on the Forbes rich list.

Happy Ever After?: Maybe. They were together for six years before they got married in Melbourne in 2003. In reports, they come across as a cool, laid-back pair. She supports his hobbies, like forming his own band called Ye Sei Mei (a bitter Cantonese herbal tea). He seems not to mind that she has the hotter career between them.

When he was photographed partying with two women on a beach last year, she did not get flustered.

She joked that the pictures were blurry and told reporters: “You help me tell those women, if they get close to my husband, that his wife is very fierce.”

Hong Kong model-actress Cathy Tsui, 24

Billionaire Spouse: Billionaire’s son Martin Lee, 35. Their lavish wedding in Sydney last December was planned by Hollywood party organiser Colin Cowie, who has co-ordinated receptions for the likes of Michael Douglas and Jerry Seinfeld.

The event was rumoured to have cost HK$100mil (RM43mil). The bride’s family reportedly got a dowry of HK$400mil (RM172mil). It was enough for an envious relative to accuse Tsui’s father of moving an ancestor’s tomb to bring good luck to his daughter – and bad fortune to other clan members.

Happy Ever After?: Maybe. Apparently, Lee had a crush on his future wife when she was a 15-year-old model and he was 26. Their marriage seems to be a dream come true for him. On their wedding day, his bride, dazzling in a 50-carat diamond necklace from him, said: “I’m so lucky to have such a good husband.” She sounded like she meant it too.

Marital happiness, however, has eluded Lee’s dad, Lee Shau Kee. The tycoon, who made his fortune in property as founder of Henderson Land, is divorced. – The Straits Times, Singapore / Asia News Network

The Star


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