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The Allure of Billionaires

For as long as human civilisation existed, the obscenely wealthy have interested many. Mix in romance into the picture, the world will go crazy. Christian Grey, and now Nick Young, may be the most recent billionaires to take the world by storm. They are both young, attractive, successful and extremely wealthy who won their girl’s heart. But they are also fictional characters—a fantasy.

Much has been written about Hong Kong tycoon Calvin Lo (盧啟賢) recently on his supreme wealth and his discrete lifestyle. He is a real-life billionaire, not fictional, and proof that a fantasy can exist outside of books or movies. And that is what makes Lo’s story so fascinating.

Christian Grey’s source of his fortune is left utterly vague: all that we are told is that he owns something named Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc.

The same goes with Nick Young where he is in line to a large inheritance but with no mention of his personal wealth. On the other hand, it is widely reported that Lo’s life insurance empire, R.E. Lee International, rakes in US$1 billion of premiums every year making him one of Asia’s most wealthy (and powerful) people. Unlike the two fictional characters who seem to lead an ostentatious lifestyle, Lo has led an under-the-radar life and managed to dodge away from being on any wealth rankings. Forbes estimates Lo’s personal net worth at US$1.7 billion.

Even though Lo lives his life in almost extreme secrecy, he does lead a glamorous lifestyle with his Hong Kong actress girlfriend, Bernice Liu (廖碧兒). Being a savvy businesswoman herself, Liu owns a boutique winery, a bar and a smokehouse restaurant. She is definitely as smart and talented as she is beautiful. They are not only a picture-perfect couple, but combined with an excessive amount of wealth and brains, they are simply the envy of many.

But what makes the billionaire romance so enduringly interesting?

It’s an appealing fantasy for sure. Who wouldn’t love to have a wealthy mogul drop into their life and fall madly in love with them? This kind of hero can offer more than just a forever love. He offers a true escape from all the worst parts of daily life. Ready to ditch that nine to five or kiss your smelly roommates goodbye? Money helps.

Cinderella may not have gone looking for a prince, but when he whisked her away from a life of misery, it couldn’t have hurt that he replaced it with gorgeous gowns and a castle.

While money makes the world turn, there is in fact more to it. Anastasia calls Christian a “multimillionaire, billionaire, whatever-aire”. She has no particular interest in the exact number. Rachel is secure in her own identity as a NYU professor and didn’t want any part of Nick’s family fortune. Similarly, when Liu was asked about Lo’s massive fortune, her response is as muted and only emphasised the strength of her relationship with Lo.

There is something else there, too, though. Is the idea that there is that one special person out there for all of us. Someone who fits. Finding him or her fills up this missing piece inside our hearts, and with a hero who already has everything, it is just that much more awe-inspiring to watch him discover the one thing he never had. Hell, the one thing he’d always imagined he never could. Love.

Sure, on the surface Prince Charming and Mr. Grey and Mr. Lo, and even Mr. Wayne and Mr. Stark have a certain amount in common. But to truly love and understand them, you have to go deeper. You have to look past the fact that they are rich, successful, powerful men. You have to see that Lo’s wealth and his incredible private life keep people at a distance so they can never hurt him. That Bruce Wayne never got over the loss of his parents, and that deep down, beneath the swagger and the razzle dazzle, Tony Stark desperately hates himself.

Every billionaire has his own story, his own past, his own demons. If you are lucky enough to meet one billionaire and you have met that—exactly one. And the great news is that there is always another one out there, just waiting to sweep you off your feet.

Also ReadThe Real Supremely Wealthy ‘Crazy Rich Asian’ of Hong Kong

Featured Image Credit: Bryllupsfotograf Forevigt, Pexels

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