A Hong Kong billionaire who promised £80million in 'dowry' to the man who could win the affections of his lesbian daughter has withdrawn his offer.
Cecil Chao Sze-tsung, a 77-year-old property magnate sparked global controversy in 2012 when, refusing to accept his daughter Gigi's civil union to her lesbian partner of eight years, he offered 500 million Hong kong dollars to the man who could convince her to marry him.
He then doubled it recently, insisting that Gigi was 'still single', despite the fact that she married her long-term partner Sean Eav two years ago.
Cecil Chao Sze-tsung, a 77-year-old property magnate who promised £80million in 'dowry' to the man who could win the affections of his lesbian daughter Gigi has withdrawn his offer
Happy couple: Gigi, right, asks her father to 'not be terrified' of her partner Sean, left, whom she married in a civil ceremony two years ago, and to 'treat her like a dignified human being'
His 34-year-old daughter initially laughed it off, but last week she went public with her plea for him to understand that she is gay, and that if it is as easy as he thinks to change her sexual orientation, he should lead by example.
Now the father of three has taken his offer off the table and said the money is 'staying in his pocket.'
'If Gigi's said that this is what she chooses, then it's all over,' Cecil Chao said Thursday an interview with CNN.
'I can't say I am happy with her choice,' he said. 'If this is her choice then it's for her.'
But said he will not be accepting his daughter's partner into his family.
'I have no intention of mixing my life with her life,' Cecil Chao said. 'But if this is what she wants, then I respect her choice.'
Definitely not single: Gigi Chao, right, and her partner Sean Eav, have been together for nine years and married in Paris in 2012
In denial: Hong Kong billionaire Mr Chao, who claims to have slept with 10,000 women, still wants his daughter to marry a man – although he won't force her
Following the publication of an open letter to her father, Ms Chao said she will enter a straight marriage, when her father enters a gay one.
'Since Dad thinks it's so easy for me to switch from gay to straight, I should just leave it for him to demonstrate. I think I'll marry a man when he marries a man,' she told The Times.
In the letter published by South China Morning Post, Ms Chao reaches out to her father, asking for him to come to terms with the fact that she is a lesbian.
In the letter, which starts 'Dear Daddy', Ms Chao explains that although her love for him has not changed, the time has come for her father to accept her sexual orientation and her partner, Sean Eav, whom she has been with for nine years.
Deal: Ms Chao offered to comply with the terms, as long as the man in question donated a large part of the 'reward' to her charity, and did not mind that she already has a wife
'I must have misled you to hope there were other options for me,' she writes.
'I know it’s difficult for you to understand how I could feel romantically attracted to a woman; I suppose I can’t really explain it either. It just happens, peacefully and gently, and after so many years, we still love each other very much.
'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 [partner Sean Eav], and treat her like a normal, dignified human being.
I understand it is difficult for you to understand, let alone accept this truth.'
'I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out who I am, what is important in my life, who I love and how best to live life, as an expression of all these questions.
'I am proud of my life, and I would not choose to live it any other way (except also figuring out how to be gentler on the planet).
'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.'
Ms Chao married her long-term partner Sean in a church ceremony in Paris in early 2012, but it was not until news of their union was printed in the Hong Kong tabloids that her father promised the million HKD fortune to any potential male suitor able to walk Gigi down the aisle.
Ms Chao had already told her father about her wedding, and said he was ‘surprised and unpleasantly shocked,’ but urged her not to make it public.
When the plea for a man for Gigi spread over the world, the offers came pouring in.
‘War veterans from the US, someone from Ethiopia, from Istanbul, South America, Portugal, really just from all over the world,’ Ms Chao said.
'One American suitor wrote: "I’m interested in the offer. I am a male person, who also happens to be gay".'
Ms Chao, an executive director at her father’s property development company, part-time pilot, and founder of anti-poverty charity Faith in Love Foundation, has maintained throughout her father's persistent quest that she knows he is only doing it out of love and concern.
'I understand that he loves me, it’s just he’s from another time and it’s difficult for him to understand the plight of the LGBT.
'At the office it’s business as usual. At family gatherings we hug and dance. And we just agree to disagree on what marriage is and family is.'
GIGI CHAO'S LETTER TO HER FATHER