Gigi Chao, the daughter of a Hong Kong billionaire says she has been bombarded with marriage proposals – and even nude photographs – from Nigerians and other nationals after her father offered £40 million to the man who could woo her.
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Gigi Chao, daughter of property tycoon Cecil Chao, entered a civil partnership with her girlfriend of seven years in a ceremony in Paris five months ago.
But Mr Chao, 76, has told the South China Morning Post that reports of his daughter’s civil ceremony were “false”. He announced the HK$500 million dowry earlier this week.
It has sparked a deluge of offers. Speaking on Thursday Ms Chao, 33, said she had received about 200 proposals and that the number of people following her on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook had jumped by 1,500 since her father’s announcement.
“People are contacting me on Facebook, by email, on Twitter. It’s ridiculous. I can’t sort out the serious proposals from the half-hearted ones. I can’t make head or tail of it,” she said.
Ms Chao, an executive director of her father’s company, Cheuk Nang, said that in addition to receiving enquiries from gentlemen who say they are looking for love and ask her out on a date, she has received some introductions that are less conventional.
Some hopefuls have attached nude photos of themselves or provided information about their financial situations. She has received proposals from all over the world, including Nigeria, India, Turkey and Bulgaria. Numerous bankers have contacted her.
“Some of them had obviously done their research, you know, gone on my Facebook and looked at my background,” she said. “Some of them are quite poetic.”
But far from getting angry at her father, she said she was “touched”.
“At first I was entertained by it, and then that entertainment turned into the realisation and conviction that I am a really lucky girl to have such a loving daddy, because it’s really sweet of him to do something like this as an expression of his fatherly love,” she said.
While Ms Chao knew that her father would go public denying the union, she did not know he would offer the reward. “I think the HK$500 million really came as an afterthought.”
Even though Mr Chao has not accepted the union, Ms Chao said she loved her father and that they had a good relationship. “It’s not that he can’t accept me,” she said. “It’s that he can’t accept how society would view me and the status that it would incur. Marriage is still a form of social status. I do understand him. I understand why he’s doing this.”
She added: “But I don’t appreciate getting 1,500 emails.”
Ms Chao, who also runs Haut Monde Talent, a model management and PR firm, met her partner, Sean Yeung, who also goes by Sean Eav, while they were working together.
Ms Chao she was drawn to Ms Yeung because she was straightforward, not manipulative, honest, had strong family values and cared about her friends deeply. “I’m very happy when I’m with her,” she said. Ms Chao, who has dated men and women, said she has always been open and honest about her relationships to her family.
However her mother has not accepted her sexuality. Ms Chao recalled that when she told her mother about a relationship with a girl when she was 16 years old, her mother “banged her head against the wall, literally”.
Although they have become more visible in recent years, members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in Hong Kong are still largely not accepted by the vast majority of the population.
Ms Chao believes gay rights are picking up, but said work was still needed on the social mentality. Mr Chao is not so conventional himself. He made headlines in 2003 when his Rolls-Royce caught fire while he and his girlfriend were inside.
The tycoon has never married and once claimed to have had “intimate relations” with about 10,000 women.