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Tycoon's Lesbian Daughter Rejects Multimillion-Dollar 'Marriage Bounty'

Gigi Chao (right) daughter of Hong Kong property tycoon Cecil Chao, poses with her partner, Sean Eav, at an event in Hong Kong.
Gigi Chao (right) daughter of Hong Kong property tycoon Cecil Chao, poses with her partner, Sean Eav, at an event in Hong Kong.

A Hong Kong real estate tycoon made headlines two years ago when he offered a $65 million bounty to the man who could win his daughter's heart and marry her. In an open letter today, the daughter says she hopes he can accept that she is indeed a lesbian.

Cecil Chao, a billionaire property developer who himself has never married, made the offer after learning that his 34-year-old daughter, Gigi Chao, had married her partner, Sean Eav, in France. Homosexuality is not a criminal offense in Hong Kong, but same-sex marriage there is not legally recognized.

Last week, the elder Chao reportedly increased his offer.

"My wish is: she [will be] married with children who can inherit the hard work of my life," Chao told The Edge, a Malaysian business magazine.

After the initial "marriage bounty" in 2012, Gigi Chao, who is a model, arrived at her management company's building one day "to discover a crowd of Casanovas camped out in the lobby," according to Hong Kong Tatler.

The magazine writes:

"Bearing boxes of chocolates and bunches of red roses, the jet-setting lotharios had flown in from Africa, the Middle East and Europe in an attempt to win her heart — and her father's dowry."

Hong Kong Tatler also notes that she has also received friend requests from more than 20,000 people on Facebook, as well as love letters from war veterans, gay men and even a former body double for George Clooney.

Gigi Chao told The Australian last June, "I had no alternative but to be calm about it all." It adds:

"I knew where he was coming from. Daddy worries that my lifestyle and my lesbianism will lock me out of conservative Hong Kong high society. It's not just high society. The whole of local society here is conservative, especially on the issue of sexuality. In some ways it is even worse than mainland China."

But now she wants her father to accept that she is a lesbian, saying that her partner "is a large part of my life, and I am a better person because of her." The South China Morning Post has posted Chao's full letter. It reads in part:

"Now, I'm not asking you to be best of friends; however, it would mean the world to me if you could just not be so terrified of her, and treat her like a normal, dignified human being."

"I'm sorry to mislead you to think I was only in a lesbian relationship because there was a shortage of good, suitable men in Hong Kong."

"There are plenty of good men, they are just not for me."

That might not be the end of this saga. Entertainment Weekly and Deadline reported in 2012 that Sacha Baron Cohen is developing a movie about this for Paramount, tentatively titled The Lesbian.

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Alan was a Kroc Fellow at NPR and worked at WNPR as a reporter for three months. He is interested in everything from health and science reporting to comic books and movies. Before joining us, he studied journalism at Northwestern University, and worked at Psychology Today, NPR's Weekend Edition, and WBEZ in Chicago.