A High Court judge in Hong Kong Monday appointed an administrator to oversee the estate of Asia's richest woman, the late Nina Wang, ahead of an anticipated court battle over her fortune estimated to be at least 4.2 billion dollars.
Wang, 69, the former chairwoman of the Chinachem property empire, died of cancer in April, apparently leaving her entire fortune to a part-time feng shui master Chan Chun Cheun.
The will is being challenged by relatives acting through a Chinachem charitable foundation and judge Andrew Cheung said at a hearing Monday he expected a 'protracted' litigation over the huge fortune.
Speaking after the hearing, Chan's solicitor Jonathan Midgley, who had sought an administration order on behalf of Chan, said he still hoped the case could be settled outside court.
Wang was named as the richest woman in Asia in 2006 with a fortune estimated at 4.2 billion dollars, although some estimates suggested her real worth may have been closer to 13 billion dollars.
With no children of her own, Wang wrote a new will in 2006, two years after her ovarian cancer was diagnosed, making 48-year-old Chan her sole beneficiary.
However, her sisters and other relatives filed suit to fight for her estate, which was originally shared between charities and family members in an earlier 2002 will.
Chan is an expert in feng shui, the ancient Chinese practice of placement and arrangement of space to achieve harmony with the environment, and is consulted by property developers for readings.
Wang herself died only shortly after winning an eight-year legal battle over the fortune of her husband Teddy, which she inherited after he was kidnapped in 1990 and later declared dead when no trace of him was ever found.
She built his company, Chinachem, up into a multi-billion-dollar business empire, but initially lost a probate battle with her father-in-law.
In a 2002 hearing, Hong Kong's High Court heard claims that Nina Wang had an affair in the 1960s which led Teddy to cut her out of his will, although they remained married.
Appellate court judges initially ruled she had probably forged the will of her late husband and, after the ruling, police charged Nina Wang with forgery.
The charges were dropped, however, after Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal overturned the probate decision and ruled there was no evidence to support the claim that Wang had forged the will.
Despite her enormous wealth, Wang, who had her hair in pigtails and wore mini-skirts well into her 60s, was notoriously frugal, once claiming she needed only around 400 dollars a month to live.