Sir David Tang, the socialite, commentator and founder of the Shanghai Tang fashion brand has died, the company confirmed in a statement to CNN. He was 63.
Tang had been in poor health for some time. In one of his last columns for the Financial Times
, where he was a longtime "Agony Uncle," he praised the UK's National Health Service.
"I will howl and hunt down anyone who dares to question the NHS," Tang wrote in his characteristic style after treatment for an ulcer.
"Tonight, as I sleep at the Marsden (The Royal Marsden Hospital in London), under another impermeable umbrella of the NHS, I pay my private tribute to the NHS, particularly to all my new best friends at the Hillingdon, and I also pay a public tribute to what they represent."
Tang, who split his time between Britain and Hong Kong, said his mother "always told me that the UK provided the best education in the world, to which I now add the best hospital care in the world."
According to the Times of London
, Tang had recently sent his many famous friends an invitation to "a party where we can see each other at least one time more," adding that doctors had given him just months to live.
Those months turned out to be only weeks. Twitter tributes have flooded in from those who were close to the late fashion mogul.
Editor of the FT, Lionel Barber, described
Tang as a "philanthropist networker supreme."
"He will be sorely missed as a friend and FT columnist," Barber said.
"RIP dear friend Sir David Tang, the privilege was mine," wrote actor Russell Crowe
. "Witty, charming, intellectual, salacious, hilarious, loving and funny as f***."
David Tang speaks at the 2015 amfAR Hong Kong gala at Shaw Studios on March 14, 2015. Credit: Moses Ng/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
Born in Hong Kong in 1954, Tang founded the high-end lifestyle brand Shanghai Tang in the 1990s, selling it to luxury goods group Richemont in 1998
According to the FT, "the cigar smoker founded the China Club in Hong Kong, Beijing and Singapore and held the exclusive distribution rights for Cuban cigars in Asia-Pacific and Canada."
Tang was awarded the Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
in 2008 "in recognition of his charity work," the newspaper reported.
As well as being a philanthropist and businessman, Tang was an outspoken writer and lecturer who never shied from controversial issues.
In 2016, he gave a speech to the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondent's Club
in which he praised the city and lambasted its political leaders.
"Our government has been growing apart from the people of Hong Kong and they must anticipate trouble. Already, there are over one million people in Hong Kong who are trapped by poverty, and they cannot be too pleased about the government," he said.
"It is simply invidious that in a prosperous community such as Hong Kong, over 15 percent of our population should be living below the breadline."