Businessman, socialite and cigar aficionado Sir David Tang may soon be puffing on the last smoke of his life.
Tang, who turned 63 earlier this month, has been in poor health. The flamboyant billionaire, who has enjoyed close relations with the British royal family and many celebrities, sent out an invitation this week for a final farewell party with friends, promising “jolly merriment” and “a lot of embraces” at the Dorchester Hotel, according to The Times in London.
He wrote: “As I have been given by my politburo of medical experts just a month or two to last, I thought the best way to go would be to give a party where we can see each other at least one time more, rather than at a memorial service where I shall be dead as a dodo.”
The grandson of Hong Kong’s most famous philanthropist Tang Shiu Kin, Sir David founded Shanghai Tang, one of the first Chinese fashion labels with a global presence. It sells qipao (ladies) and cheongsam (gentlemen) – elegant Chinese dresses – but was sold to Richemont in 1998, who owned the brand for 19 years, before it was taken over last month by Italian fashion entrepreneur Alessandro Bastagli.
Sir David has had a weekly column, “Agony Uncle”, in the Financial Times. He wrote recently about having an ulcer that began a sinister hemorrhage. He said a friend lent him a private jet and four men had dragged him out of the plane on a sliding sheet into an ambulance, which took him to Hillingdon Hospital.
He concluded: “I will howl and hunt down anyone who dares to question the NHS (National Health Service).”
Splitting his time between Hong Kong, London and mainland China, the famous Chinese broker has had an admirable connection with foreigners anxious to know more about Eastern culture.
A holder of the Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE), he had the privilege to dance with Queen Elizabeth and was a close friend of Princess Diana. He is also a friend of models Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell.
This week, Campbell uploaded a photo of herself with him and Italian designer Giuseppe Zanotti on to Instagram.
Tang is also an honorary consul of Cuba and has been an exclusive distributor for all Cuban cigars in the Asia Pacific. Among his other achievements, he was a founder of the prestigious China Clubs in Hong Kong, Beijing and Singapore, and the China Tang restaurant at the Dorchester Hotel.
He will be remembered as China Tang, the man who made Shanghai Tang a global brand.