Property magnate Cecil Chao Sze-tsung announced the HK$500 million reward this week after reports that his 33-year-old daughter Gigi Chao, a University of Manchester graduate, had married her long-term female partner in France.
“I don’t mind whether he is rich or poor. The important thing is that he is generous and kind-hearted,” Mr Chao told the South China Morning Post, describing reports about his daughter’s marriage as “false”.
The extravagant tycoon’s offer blended Blind Date and The Apprentice with Mr Chao claiming he hoped to help the successful suitor kick-start a business.
He told the South China Morning Post the prize money was “an inducement to attract someone who has the talent but not the capital to start his own business”.
“Gigi is a very good woman with both talents and looks. She is devoted to her parents, is generous and does volunteer work,” he added.
According to the report however, Ms Chao married Sean Eav, her girlfriend of seven years, in France on April 4.
A photograph posted on Ms Chao’s public Facebook page confirmed that she and her partner were Paris-bound in April this year. “Going to Paris to buy a few businesses,” read the caption to a picture apparently taken in the first class section of a plane.
The Facebook profile of Ms Chao, who is a University of Manchester architecture graduate, reads: “Helicopter Pilot. Social entrepreneur. Creator of expressions in colour and emotion.”
It also describes her as an executive director at her father’s Hong Kong-based property firm, Cheuk Nang.
Ms Chao’s LinkedIn profile says she worked with British architect Sir Terry Farrell for two years.
Mr Chao’s controversial move to recruit a husband for his lesbian daughter appeared to contradict a description Ms Chao gave of her father in a 2007 interview.
“My father took a hands-off approach in parenting. I see him as a friend more than a father,” she told HK Magazine. “My parents never pressure me with high expectations.”
Speaking to the South China Morning Post, Mr Chao denied he would force his daughter to marry a man against her will.
But comments posted on the website of the Hong Kong newspaper were widely hostile to his “marriage bounty”.
“How humiliating for this poor girl,” wrote one reader. “Mr Chao needs to come out of denial and just be happy that he has such a beautiful daughter who appears to have found happiness with a partner whom she loves.
“Cecil, you sound like you’re selling your daughter,” commented another.
“Get with the times.”