In this article titled “Joseph Lau 101: The Famous Hong Kong Billionaire”, we will provide our readers at Zatrun.com with everything they need to know in detail about the renowned Hong Kong billionaire, Joseph Lau.
Who is Joseph Lau?
Joseph Lau is a Hong Kong billionaire born on July 21, 1951. In accordance with Hong Kong tradition, his Western-style name is Joseph Lau and his Chinese-style name is Lau Luen-hung. He is a real estate developer and former chairman of Chinese Estates, as well as an art and wine collector. Forbes estimated his net worth at $13.3 billion as of September 2021. In 2014, he was deemed guilty and fugitive in Macau.
Joseph Lau was born on July 19, 1951, in Hong Kong. He has one younger brother, Thomas, and two younger sisters. Before joining his family’s business of producing electric fans in 1974, Lau went to the University of Windsor in Canada. In 1978, he renamed the company as Evergo Industrial Enterprise. In 1982, the company went public for the first time in Hong Kong. In 1985, Lau shifted Evergo’s business focus to investment holding and property management services. When Lau acquired a 43% stake in Chinese Estates Holdings through Evergo in 1986, he became the majority shareholder.
Since then, he has expanded his real estate investments through a series of acquisitions. In 2000, he acquired a 67% stake in Chi Cheung Investment. Chinese Estates Holdings developed The ONE, the largest retail complex in Hong Kong, which opened in 2010. In 2017, Lau gifted the property to his wife Kimbie Chan Hoi-wan and children. In March 2014, Lau resigned from his positions as chairman and CEO of Chinese Estates Holdings after being found guilty of bribery and money laundering by a Macau court. His son, Lau Ming-wai, took over as chairman of the company, and Sue Chan, Kimbie’s sister, became the CEO of the company Lau founded.
Art and Wine Collections:
Joseph Lau is a passionate art collector and is listed in ARTnews’ “Top 200 Collectors” list. According to Forbes, the total value of his art collection was estimated to be around $1 billion in 2017. Lau owns a collection that includes Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Everything Must Go (1984) painting. In 2006, Lau purchased Andy Warhol’s Mao (1977) artwork featuring a portrait of Mao Zedong from Christie’s for $17.4 million. In 2007, he acquired Paul Gauguin’s Tahitian landscape painting Te Poipoi (The Morning) (1892) for $39.2 million at a Sotheby’s auction.
In February 2020, Lau presented David Hockney’s painting The Splash (1966) at a contemporary art sale at Sotheby’s in London. The painting sold for $29.9 million, making it Hockney’s third-highest price achieved at auction. Joseph Lau has a collection of over 10,000 bottles of red wine. In October 2020, Lau’s Sotheby’s sale of French wines in Hong Kong exceeded expectations and brought in $6.8 million. Following the success of the sale, Lau sold an additional 147 lots (totaling 533 bottles) at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, surpassing the estimated amount and bringing in a total of $6.8 million.
Joseph Lau was married to Bo Wing-kam (1954-2003) in 1977 and divorced in 1992. They had two children: a son, Lau Ming-wai (born December 1979) and a daughter, Jade Lau Sau-yung (born 1983). In 2008, Lau Ming-wai’s wife gave birth to twins who are Lau’s eldest grandchildren. Lau Ming-wai, who holds British citizenship, is the deputy chairman of Chinese Estates Group and also serves as the chairman of both the government’s Youth Commission and the steering committee of the HK$10 billion Community Care Fund, which was established in 2010. He was previously a member of the Poverty Commission. In 2011, he was part of Henry Tang’s election team for the 2012 presidential election.
Joseph Lau had five more children from two extramarital affairs: two with Yvonne Lui and three with Kimbee Chan (aka Chan Hoi-wan). In May 2007, Lau purchased a 7.03-carat blue diamond for $9.5 million at Sotheby’s for his daughter Josephine and named it the “Star of Josephine”. In November 2015, Lau bought two expensive diamonds for his 7-year-old daughter Josephine.
On November 10th, he purchased a 16.08-carat pink diamond for $28.5 million at Christie’s. The next day, Lau broke the record for the most expensive jewel and the most expensive diamond sold at an auction by buying a 12.03-carat blue diamond for $48.4 million at Sotheby’s. He named them “Sweet Josephine” and “Josephine’s Blue Bear”, respectively, after his daughter Josephine. Lau married Kimbee Chan on December 7, 2016, in Hong Kong. In 2017, citing serious health issues, the businessman transferred 75% of his shares in Chinese Estates to his new wife and son.
Joseph Lau and Steven Lo were convicted of offering HK$20 million for the bidding of five land parcels against the former Macau public works chief, Ao Man-long. On May 31, 2012, the Macau High Court upheld the charges. Lau and Lo were charged with bribery and money laundering. Both of them denied the charges and Lo previously claimed that the HK$20 million was a prepayment to the construction company San Meng Fai.
On March 14, 2014, Lau and Lo were found guilty and sentenced to prison by the Macau First Instance Court. Lau was given a five-year and three-month prison sentence but appealed. However, on July 19, 2015, the Second Instance Court rejected their appeals and confirmed the length of their prison sentences. Lau is currently in fugitive status and avoiding serving his sentence as there is no extradition agreement in place.