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September 21, 2009

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Feng shui master battles Wang will

THE death of Asia's richest woman two years ago has turned into a posthumous drama with a feng shui master fighting a family charity over her estate.

Closing arguments are set for today in a court battle that mesmerized Hong Kong this summer with a glimpse into the private world of tycoon Nina Wang and her alleged love affair with a bartender-turned-feng shui adviser.

What emerged during 40 days of testimony was a secret life of eccentric activities, from playing with model helicopters to burning money and digging holes for good luck.

"We played every day. We shared many activities every day," the feng shui adviser, Tony Chan, 49, said in court in late June. "Feng shui was one of our interests, but we also liked to play with model helicopters. We cooked together and we went to the countryside together."

Dubbed "Little Sweetie," Wang was famous for her girlish outfits and pigtails. Her husband, Teddy Wang, disappeared after he was abducted in 1990. He was declared dead in 1999.

Nina Wang inherited his Chinachem Group after an epic eight-year legal fight against her father-in-law.

She built the company into a major property developer with office towers, shopping malls, hotels and apartment complexes through Hong Kong. She died of cancer on April 3, 2007, aged 69.

Two wills have emerged. A July 2002 will bequeaths her estate to the Chinachem Charitable Foundation Ltd. The other, dated October 2006, was put forward by Chan, who contests that Wang left him her fortune instead.

It is not clear how much Wang's estate is worth. In 2007, Forbes magazine ranked her as the world's 204th richest person with a fortune of US$4.2 billion.

Defending his claim to Wang's estate, Chan testified that he and Wang met in 1992. He gave her a head massage, which turned into body massage and later nightly stays at Wang's house in Chinachem headquarters, he said.

Chinachem foundation's lawyers suggest he was Wang's "toy boy" and only interested in her money. In court testimony, Wang's two younger sisters said he was subservient to Wang, likening the relationship to that of a dowager and a eunuch.


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