Cecil Chao Sze-tung is Hong Kong’s perennial playboy. Call him the city’s Hugh Hefner, minus the pajamas and add a pair of shades.
Never married, real estate and shipping tycoon Chao, 76, has been a staple of the Hong Kong tabloid and social rags since the 1970s. For over 40 years he’s proudly paraded what seems to be an endless supply of female arm candy in front of the flashing bulbs.
Tales of his romantic dalliances are tabloid staples. He once boasted about having slept with over 10,000 women. Just last year the septuagenarian Chinese Casanova, as to prove his virility has not been dashed by time, posed in a magazine photo spread surrounded by young bikini-clad models.
He has fathered three children from three different women.
He has thumbed his nose at the institution of marriage. Until this week.
Chao’s respect for a traditional marriage was prompted by his daughter Gigi, 33, being quoted recently in the Beijing press saying she had married her long-time girlfriend Sean Eav earlier this year in Paris. Hong Kong currently still does not legally recognize same-sex marriages.
Rather than accepting his daughter’s decision, Chao has announced a dowry-bounty of sorts: HK$500 million ($65 million US Dollars) to the man who can woo his lesbian daughter away from her wife.
“I don’t mind whether he is rich or poor. The important thing is that he is generous and kind-hearted,” Chao told the South China Morning Post while dismissing reports of his daughter’s same-sex marriage as being “false.”
“Gigi is a very good woman with both talents and looks. She is devoted to her parents, is generous and does volunteer work,” he said.
His offer has been met with an enthusiastic response around the world. Within a day, Gigi’s Facebook and Twitter accounts were inundated with requests and followers.
On her public facebook feed, Gigi wrote: “where do all these people come from? Jerusalm(sic)? Ethiopia? Istanbul? Ridiculous.”
Meanwhile on Gawker.com, a shirtless reader – allegedly a Brazilian Algae-researching-mountain-climber – is interested. He wrote the website, asking for help to connect: “I think this girl is gorgeous and as I love women I am willing to fly to hk to meet with her. Can you please let me know how to arrange a meeting with them?”
Speaking to the SCMP Wednesday, Gigi Chao laughed off her father’s marriage bounty, telling the newspaper she found it all “quite entertaining.”
In the interview the younger Chao would not confirm or deny the rumors of her marriage and her sexual orientation.
“I’m not afraid to admit anything. But I do want to respect my parents,” she told the paper.
Much of Hong Kong society maintains fairly conservative views on homosexuality. Gigi Chao acknowledges this telling the paper, “It’s still an uncomfortable issue for many people.”
When asked by the SCMP whether her father disapproved of her alleged same-sex marriage because his “pronounced heterosexuality,” Gigi simply replied: “He loves the attention.”