Global tributes for Shanghai Tang founder

Global tributes have been flowing in for Shanghai Tang founder David Tang, 63, who has died following a long illness.

Famed for his chain of clothing stores, the Hong Kong entrepreneur was also known as a philanthropist and socialite.

The Financial Times, for which he wrote a weekly column, reports that he died at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London on Tuesday night, with his wife Lucy at his bedside.

Tang, who was being treated for liver cancer, told friends early this month that he planned to host a final farewell gathering at The Dorchester hotel in London. He had been told he had only a month or two to live.

“It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to our founder Sir David Tang,” Shanghai Tang said in a statement. “His legacy continues to live through Shanghai Tang.”

Former Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen expressed deep sadness at the loss of “a great friend” and “a man of immense dignity and grace”.

David Tang - Shanghai Tang“Hong Kong has lost a hero,” Tsang said, but Tang had “died as a happy soul”.

London department store Fortnum & Mason’s CEO Ewan Venters also says Tang was a great man, while movie actor Russell Crowe said: “RIP dear friend, Sir David Tang, the privilege was mine.”

Born in Hong Kong to a prominent philanthropic family in 1954, Tang set up his own charitable legacy, and was founding chairman of the Hong Kong Cancer Fund.

“He was tremendously talented, a modern-day renaissance man,” says the fund’s founder and CEO Sally Lo. “I know that his love of art, humour and life itself will be missed by many.”

Tang is survived by his wife, a daughter and son from his first marriage, his mother and a younger brother.

Started in law

Tang moved with his parents from Hong Kong to England when he was 12 years old. He started his career at his grandfather’s firm of solicitors. Following his own career path later, he joined UK conglomerate Swire Pacific.

He was the founder of the China Clubs in Hong Kong, Peking and Singapore, the Shanghai Tang stores, Havana House and Pacific Cigar Company, and more recently launched luxury private club Cipriani in Hong Kong and the China Tang restaurant at the Dorchester. Tang was also a director and advisor to several boards, including Tommy Hilfiger.

In the 2008 UK New Year Honours, Tang was promoted from OBE to Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE). He was also honoured by the French government as Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1995.

Tang was the honorary consul of Cuba in Hong Kong, and in 2011 founded the website iCorrect.com, where celebrities can post fixes and refutations of incorrect information on the internet.

His death follows that of Shanghai Tang creative director Raffaele Borriello last month. The Italian designer died in Paris following surgery.

Meanwhile, Shanghai Tang changed hands in July, being bought from Swiss luxury group Richemont by private equity fund Cassia Investments in partnership with Italian fashion entrepreneur Alessandro Bastagli.

Footnote: Tang’s Chinese name literally translates as “forever jingling”.

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