[Stephen] Hung, dressed in black pants and a T-shirt emblazoned with bright flowers and geometric shapes —both very tight and very Versace—is there [at HONG KONG'S HISTORIC Peninsula Hotel] to do some shopping. In a private room in the hotel's Graff Diamonds store, Hung tells Arnaud Bastien, the British jeweler's Asia president and chief executive, that he has recently been to Venice, where he sailed on founder Laurence Graff's 150-foot yacht. Bastien acknowledges that his boss "knows how to enjoy" life. "Except right next to it was a 250-footer!" Hung interjects. He pulls up some photos of the trip on his iPhone and passes it around the room.
"When we work with Stephen he's always eager to have something special," says Bastien, as he produces one of the designs Graff has prepared for Hung. It is a watch face adorned with diamonds in the shape of Hung's own visage. A line of rubies is planned to represent Hung's signature look: a swath of bright red hair sweeping across his forehead. "We came up with this and he asked, 'Can you make my hair more red?'" explains Bastien.
Hung lights a Dunhill cigarette with a gold lighter. "Not many men get to try these on," he says, as he slips on a flawless 23-carat diamond ring that out-sparkles even his bright green Christian Louboutin loafers covered in gold spikes. "These are all worth over $10 million…obviously," he says, pointing to the jewels on display.
He's one of China's new rich, and he has plans for more;
His enormous wealth has come from deals in investment banking and real estate, including in the gambling mecca of Macau. And it is there that, at 55 years old—an age when he says he can afford to do whatever he wants—he has decided to stake his claim and make some headlines. His plan may make some scratch their heads, but it makes perfect sense to him: He wants to transform a patch of Macau into a unique playground for ultra-wealthy individuals, with perks as eye-catching as his lifestyle. Indeed, if he has his way, it will be a destination unlike any other in the world.
Hmmm, come the revolution
...some say a looming economic slowdown in China, coupled with the Chinese government's recent crackdown on corruption, make this an inopportune time for such an extravagant project. After three decades of annual economic growth averaging around 10 percent, China's government has set a gross domestic product growth target of 7.5 percent this year, and many economists worry the country's days of breakneck economic expansion are already behind it.
....criticism of the super-rich has become de rigueur in China after years of excessive displays of wealth, from the red Ferraris seen prowling Beijing streets to the flashy watches worn by small-town officials. To help set a new tone in the country, President Xi Jinping has stayed in modest hotels on the road and shunned the lavish banquets that used to be commonplace for Communist Party officials. His menu at one major event included just four dishes and one soup, a widely reported move that was interpreted as a sign that other leaders should curb their appetites as well. Sales of delicacies such as bird's nest soup and tabs at five-star hotels promptly tanked. Recently, a Beijing official was fired after spending too much—around $260,000—on his son's wedding, state media reported.
Political fashions can change quickly.
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