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Asia's richest woman leaves her 4.2 billion-dollar fortune to feng shui master

A charity and a mystery man are vying for the fortune of late Hong Kong tycoon Nina Wang, who was Asia's richest woman, in a development that echoes Wang's court battle with her father-in-law over her kidnapped husband's estate.

Wang, who inherited husband Teddy Wang's fortune, died on April 3, aged 69. She was reportedly suffering from ovarian cancer.

Nina Wang captivated Hong Kong with her pigtails, garish outfits and fascinating life story.

She continued to court controversy from beyond the grave this week when two wills surfaced laying competing claims to her estate - which, according to Forbes magazine was worth US$4.2 billion (EUR3.1 billion), making her Asia's richest woman.

In its Thursday edition, Hong Kong's Next magazine published the image of a typewritten will allegedly signed by Wang and dated July 28, 2002, leaving her fortune to the Chinachem Charitable Foundation Ltd., named after her company Chinachem Group.

In the purpored will, Wang says she wanted the charity to set up a Chinese version of the Nobel prizes.

Spokeswoman Wendy Law at the charity's law firm, Johnson Stokes & Master, declined comment Friday.

In the alleged will, Nina Wang says she and her husband set up the charity.

However, a newspaper notice published Friday by the law firm Haldanes says Wang left her estate to Chan Chun-chuen in a will dated Oct. 16, 2006.

Little is known about Chan. Local media described him as a feng shui master, but Haldanes partner Jonathan Midgley said at a news conference on Friday that Chan is a 48-year-old real-estate investor who practices feng shui as a hobby.

Chan didn't attend the news conference.

Feng shui is the Chinese belief of improving fortunes by timing and the layout of objects, such as furniture.

It's unclear how Chan met Nina Wang or if they were romantically involved. Midgley did not take questions after making a statement, but said Chan is married with three children.

In an apparent attempt to prove Chan's ties to Wang, Haldanes released a photo of the two together, taken in the early 1990s.

"Mr. Chan believes that he understood her (Nina Wang's) philosophy, both her personal philosophy and her philosophy in running her businesses," Midgley said.

Meanwhile, Johnson Stokes & Master has filed papers in Hong Kong's High Court Thursday requesting that no court decision on Wang's fortune be made without notifying its lawyers.

Midgley said Friday they did not view the filing as a hostile act, but merely "a prudent step taken by experienced solicitors."

He said Chan will continue to assist Nina Wang's charity.

It wasn't immediately clear where Nina Wang's immediate family stands on the dueling wills.

Nina Wang's funeral announcement lists a younger brother and two younger sisters as survivors.

A woman who answered the phone at the offices of Kung Yan-sum, Nina Wang's younger brother, said he refused to be interviewed and hung up.

Nina Wang had her own court fight with father-in-law Wang Din-shin over her late husband Teddy Wang's fortune.

Teddy Wang was abducted in 1990. The family paid US$33 million (EUR24.3 million) in ransom but he was never freed.

Several of the kidnappers said he thrown into the sea, but his body was never found and was declared dead in 1999.

In his absence, Nina Wang built Chinachem into a massive developer, with office towers and apartment complexes throughout Hong Kong.

Wang's standing, however, came under threat when Wang Din-shin challenged her claim to his late son's fortune.

Wang Din-shin said he was the sole beneficiary of Teddy Wang's estate based on a 1968 will.

He questioned the will Nina Wang produced, which was dated just a month before her husband disappeared and left her everything. A Hong Kong judge ruled in November 2002 Nina Wang's will was fake and that Wang "probably" forged part of it.

Nina Wang staged a legal comeback.

In 2005, Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal reversed the ruling that gave Teddy Wang's estate to his father.

Nina Wang was also cleared of forgery charges in December 2005.

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