Skip to main content

Feng shui factor in billion-dollar estate battle

By Miranda Leitsinger, CNN
  • Nina Wang dies in 2007 from cancer
  • Family foundation says 2006 will was a "feng shui" will
  • Her feng shui adviser says it's a valid document
  • Feng shui becomes key part of trial
  • Hong Kong
  • China

Hong Kong, China (CNN) -- The practice of feng shui figured prominently in the fight over the estate of one of Asia's wealthiest women, Nina Wang.

Her lover and feng shui adviser, Tony Chan, said a 2006 will she allegedly signed, left her estate to him. Her family's Chinachem Charitable Foundation, claimed that will was a feng shui will, and that the valid will was one from 2002 that left her estate to the foundation.

A judge ruled Tuesday in favor of the foundation.

Read the story on the judge's decision on who won the estate

The following are excerpts of interviews conducted with attorneys for both parties in the probate battle over the role (or lack of one) of feng shui in this case.

From an interview with Chinachem Charitable Foundation lawyer, Keith M. K. Ho:

Ho: "Well it is part of our case that she believed in feng shui. And apart from making a feng shui will, Mr. Tony Chan also arranged holes to be dug in a number of developments. ...

Very huge ones okay, as big as maybe three meters by diameter, and dug in the ground, near the property developments of Chinachem, and in those holes they put in feng shui things. Like paper, like coins, some wooden things, all related to feng shui. And a number of holes were dug for, we say, for feng shui purposes. And at trial, the holes, the things put into the holes, were retrieved and produced to the court at the time, so we say this is good evidence to show to the court that feng shui is something that Nina believed in, when she was alive."

CNN: What is the importance of showing that?

Ho: "We say that part of the case was that the holes were dug at the direction, and request of Mr. Tony Chan, for feng shui purposes. So part of our case is that he was very much a feng shui master, and giving feng shui advice to Nina. That is part of our case."

CNN : Why is that important to show?

Ho: "I think if he acted as a feng shui master he would be able to ask Nina to do things according to feng shui requirements, that's what we say."

CNN : There was an argument that this (2006 will) may be a feng shui will?

Ho: "At that time (2006) she was seriously ill. She may have received feng shui advice to the fact that if you give your property away, by a will, then your life could be extended. The idea of feng shui will is this," according to a feng shui expert for the foundation.

From interview with Tony Chan lawyer Jonathan Midgley:

CNN: Can you tell me a little bit about who he was pre-Nina?

Midgley: "When he was young he had various jobs ... but he then opened a feng shui school for a short while, and he obviously had a talent at reading people's faces, so it was that part of his life. But as I say, that fell away because Nina supported him, and wanted him to do better and wasn't encouraging him to spend his life involved in feng shui or feng shui-like activities so that's when he moved on to investing and property, investing in companies, and generally trying to make the most of himself under Nina's guidance."

CNN : So he (Tony) says that he is not a feng shui master?

Midgley: "I can tell you it's part of the trial. It's part of the evidence, that he doesn't consider himself to be very good at feng shui, nor is he particularly enamored by the idea of feng shui, and I think he feels that it can benefit some, because if the person receiving the feng shui advice believes it, there is, if nothing else, a placebo effect. So it's a bit like many things in life, believe and it benefits, and I think that would probably reasonably, accurately sum up Tony Chan's position with regards to feng shui."

CNN: So in the case then you guys would say that this claim about feng shui, well, that he wouldn't have the ability ... ?

Midgley: "Well, we don't even know. I mean -- a feng shui will -- we're inclined, without being disrespectful, to laugh at the idea. Feng shui wills, that's an interesting notion, we think."

Read more news from China

CNN: What does he say about these things that are coming out (digging holes at Nina's properties as part of feng shui rituals)?

Midgley: "Clearly there was some hole-digging. It only formed a small part of a long, long relationship, but of course if you start to focus on anybody's private life, and on one particular aspect of it, it can always look strange, it can always look in some instances sinister, or amusing, or bizarre ... Nina Wang was undoubtedly interested in superstitious things, including feng shui, and if she thought that digging holes was fun and somehow benefited her life, well there you are. Around the world different cultures have different ways of bringing good luck don't they. And certain things you do to avoid bad luck."