Fugitive tycoon Joseph Lau says ‘The One’ shopping mall in TST not named after his ‘ex-lover’, retired actress Michelle Reis

    Insert pictures: Left: Michelle Reis, Right: Joseph Lau

    4th January 2023 – (Hong Kong) Joseph Lau Luen-hung, Hong Kong fugitive billionaire held a 90-minute press conference yesterday to clarify again the relationship status with his ex-girlfriend Yvonne Lui Lai-kwan after speculation ran rife when they were spotted at Windsor House in Causeway Bay.

    Not only he elaborated that the meeting was a pure business dealing but he also talked about rumours about his relationships in the past. He said that ‘The One’ shopping mall on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui under his group was not named after someone he loved in his life. He explained that it was named by his son Lau Ming-wai and has nothing to do with his former rumoured actress girlfriend Michelle Monique Reis. He added that there was someone who took advantage of him and asked his secretary to help to advertise in newspapers. Regardless of the ‘financial motive’, he still duly obliged. He admitted that his English standard is low and said his ‘ex-girlfriend’ gave an advertisement script to him and ‘used’ his secretary to pay for the advertisement cost. He said that after his ex-girlfriend married someone else for 2-3 years, she still requested several ‘crocodile leather bags and diamond bags’ from him. He then hinted that ‘others’ would not be able to take advantage of him now even though he gave the bags to the ex-lover before. He said that they would have to queue as far as Heilongjiang in China before they could get any bags from him.

    Back in 2006, a “mysterious person” published “Happy Birthday Michele 20.06.2006” in a full-page advertisement in Apple Daily newspapers to congratulate Reis on her birthday, and wrote “With Love, The One” below. During the period, although Reis was already dating Julian Hui who is her husband now, the advertisement was rumoured to be published by Lau and hence, it was interpreted by Stephen Shiu, a Taiwan-based Hong Kong media personality,  that ‘The One’ represented Reis who was the only favourite of Lau. Subsequently, it was also speculated that the name of ‘The One’ in Tsim Sha Tsui was named after Reis. Lau refuted the rumour once and for all in the press conference yesterday and he also begged Shiu during the press conference not to spread rumours. Lau told Shiu that ‘if he has financial issues, he can help’ as he claimed he has helped a lot of poor people. Lau also said during the press conference almost everyone in the entertainment industry likes to lie.

    Full page advertisement dedicated to Michelle Reis.

    Tycoons like Lau, similar to other wealthy families in Hong Kong like to use their money to crave attention from others. They want others to compliment them and admire them for their riches. They love collecting things like art, items, donating to charities to garner sense of pride by leaving a ‘legacy behind’ with their names clearly depicted on buildings they helped to construct. It will spice up their base, make them look better in the eyes of the society.

    The Splash by David Hockney. Picture source: Sotheby’s.

    In 2020, the anonymous seller of the famous painting from David Hockney’s iconic swimming pool series was revealed to be fugitive tycoon Lau, according to a report by Katya Kazakina from Bloomberg News. Hockney’s 1966 work A Splash was one of the most expensive offerings to appear in Sotheby’s contemporary art sale in London on 11th February, where it is estimated to sell for £20 million–£30 million (around US$26.1 million–US$39.2 million). It last came to auction in 2006 at Sotheby’s, when it was acquired by whom the auction house identified as its current owner for £2.9 million. It was sold for more than £23.1 million (US$29.8 million) at an auction in London subsequently.

    According to Sotheby’s, the auction house behind the sale, it is the third-highest price ever paid for a work by the 82-year-old British painter, who was briefly the world’s most expensive living artist.

    Meanwhile, Lau Ming Wai Academic Building, City University of Hong Kong (CityU) was named after the son of Joseph Lau, Lau Ming-wai. According to CityU, Lau Ming-wai and his family have generously donated to CityU over the years. The funds donated are used to support not only the University’s strategic development, but also the establishment of various scholarships and bursaries to enrich students’ learning experience and enable them to expand their international exposures.

    Tycoons who love to leave a legacy either via themselves or their siblings spent somewhere around half a century investing themselves in what they believed was meaningful and important. They did great things, worked hard, earned everything they have, maybe started a family or a charity or a political or cultural revolution or two, and now they’re done. They’ve reached the age where their energy and circumstances no longer allow them to pursue their purpose any further.

    The goal is hence not to create a legacy as much as simply making sure that legacy lasts beyond one’s death. This could be something as simple as supporting and advising their (now grown) children and living vicariously through them. It could mean passing on their projects and work to a protégé or apprentice. It could also mean becoming more politically active to maintain their values in a society that they no longer recognise.

    To move beyond ‘legacy stage’, according to author Mark Manson, a person must realise that change is inevitable, and that the influence of one person, no matter how great, no matter how powerful, no matter how meaningful, will eventually dissipate. In 100 years from now, no one will know or care what’s written on the name of a building.

    To appreciate Mr Lau Ming-wai and his family’s longstanding support and contributions to the University over the years, CityU named Academic 3 as Lau Ming Wai Academic Building in 2016.

    Michelle Monique Reis (born Michele Monique Reis, 20th June 1970) is a Hong Kong actress, model, and beauty queen of PortugueseMacanese and Shanghainese descent. In 1988, she won the Miss Chinese International Pageant and Miss Hong Kong beauty pageants. Afterward, she became one of Hong Kong’s most prominent actresses in the 1990s, preferring to act in more introspective, higher-quality movies that often were independent films.

    Reis recalls her childhood as an unhappy one. She recalls her childhood being devoid of toys or new clothes and dominated by “her mother’s tears and parents’ endless bickering”. Her father became more absent, resulting in Reis being raised primarily by her mother. Francis Reis was unsuccessful in his career, “achieving nothing”, resulting in the family living in poverty. Wu Guofang, Reis’ mother, worked two jobs a day to provide for the family. The family lived in a tin roof house, which they built themselves and was typical of Hong Kong’s impoverished, and then lived in the highly dense and impoverished Chungking Mansions. Conditions at the tin roof house were very poor, with summers being extremely hot and rain easily dripping through cracks in their roof.

    In 1980, at the age of 10, Reis’ father ran away from the family household because of an affair he was having, reportedly an affair abroad. By the end of his lifetime, he would come to have had three marriages and four children. Reis has also stated that in childhood, she did not pay attention to her appearance, and that in elementary school she wore large myopic glasses.

    In 1982, when she was 12, Reis filmed a second advertisement.

    Many years after Reis’ father abandoned the family and as Reis began to become well-known in Hong Kong, he tried to contact Reis by phone, asking for money. Despite her worries about his deteriorating health, she had no intention of reconnecting. Years later, Reis recalled the phone call, which she found hurtful.

    Reis’ father died at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong on 22nd August 1995 after fighting a blood disorder for eight months. She attended his funeral.

    On 23rd November 2008, following a public two-year courtship, Reis married business tycoon Julian Hui.

    On 23rd November 2008, following a public two-year courtship, Reis married business tycoon Julian Hui, son of real-estate billionaire Hui Sai Fun (1921–2018). Their son Jayden Max Hui was born on 8th February 2011. His initials are derived from the first initials, “J” and “M”, of his parents’ names.  Michelle Reis knew that when she married her husband, Julian Hui, others would start calling her a gold digger, but the actress stated that there is nothing wrong about liking a successful man. However, even before Hui, She was reported to be dating Lau. Hence, her history of being a gold digger could be attributed to her unhappy childhood. She admitted that she didn’t understand why it is wrong to like a rich man.

    In 2007, a viral audio of Reis and business tycoon Joseph Lau leaked onto the internet caused controversy, in which Reis and Lau had a heated argument regarding actresses he had signed, including Ada Choi and Catherine Hung. Reis’ use of profanity directed at Lau led netizens to imply the two to be in a relationship and being able to swear profusely behind his wife’s back during that time, although the quality and time has indicated it originated from the 90s.

    On 15th January 2022, Reis was rushed to ICU after a near death experience due to breathing complications.