One of China’s most colorful figures died Tuesday. Nina Wang, 69, was Asia’s richest woman, but “Little Sweetie” was known for more than her money. Her life is an amazing Hong Kong tale complete with a big fortune, quirky personalities, kidnappers and courtroom drama.
Despite her wealth Wang preferred eat fast food and shop at discount outlets. She wore her hair and pigtails and dressed in colorful miniskirts. Her unique style became tabloid fodder in Hong Kong as she and her father and law battled over the fortune of her husband, Teddy Wang, a real estate tycoon who was kidnapped in 1990 and never seen again. He had been kidnapped once before, but was released after his wife paid an $11 million ransom. She paid $34 million after the 1990 kidnapping, but he was never seen again and a court declared him dead in 1999.
Wang and her father-in-law battled over Teddy Wang’s estate, which was then estimated at more than $3 billion. In 2002 a court declared that a will giving Nina Wang control of the fortune was forged, but in 2005 that ruling was reversed, leaving her with the money. Wang’s death, reportedly of cancer, robs Hong Kong of one of its unique players, but her story still has legs. After all, there’s the not-so-small matter of where her $4.2 billion fortune goes.