HONG KONG — David Tang, founder of Chinese luxury brand Shanghai Tang, has died.
The 63-year-old businessman had been suffering from health problems, which Tang revealed in an advice column he penned regularly for The Financial Times.
Ewan Venters, chief executive officer of Fortnum & Mason, wrote in a tweet that Tang had passed away on Tuesday evening.
Gilbert Harrison, chairman of Financo, said he knew Tang for more than 25 years.
“He was a pioneer and one of the most interesting people I have known — very creative, fun and ambitious. As a somewhat aristocrat, he knew his Asian and English heritage. He always said he was ‘yellow on the outside and white on the inside,’” Harrison said.
Furniture designer Viscount David Linley said they met in 1987 through a friend named Charles Butter — while Linley was in Hong Kong — and touted Tang as “an amazing polymath.”
“He was so accomplished in so many things,” Linley said. “From being an art collector to being a crossword puzzle-doer to understanding about education, the arts and fashion. He’s the only person I know to get Wellington boots made by Lobb. And that’s just one side of him. Style, elegance, wit, bon rapport and bringing people together…
“He opened my mind to so many aspects of life and turned them upside down,” he added. “He was an extraordinary people gatherer and gathered people from all walks of life. He was a musician and a restauranteur. He brought so much into the world and asked nothing in return. He has so many friends from all walks of life: politicians, musicians, film stars….If you look up any of the parties he gave during Chinese New Year, you’d be likely to sit next to a politician or a rock star, a top model, a member of the royal family. There was extraordinary people wherever he went. I can’t think of a story because he was the story.”
A fixture on the social scene, who counted Kate Moss and Duchess Sarah Ferguson among his friends, Tang shared at the start of August that he had been rushed to a London hospital for an ulcer. The Telegraph also reported that Tang had sent out invitations this month to a party at The Dorchester hotel in London to bid his friends farewell.
Actor Russell Crowe remembered Tang in a post that read: “RIP dear friend, Sir David Tang, the privilege was mine. Witty, charming, intellectual, salacious, hilarious, loving and funny as f–k.”
Tang was a pioneer in forging a modern Chinese luxury aesthetic. Born in Hong Kong to a well-to-do family — his grandfather founded one of the city’s first bus companies — Tang was educated in the U.K. and launched Shanghai Tang in 1994, eventually selling it to luxury goods group Richemont in 1998. The brand changed hands again just last month, when it was purchased by Italian entrepreneur Alessandro Bastagli.
Tang was known, as well, for creating the private members concept China Club, which has locations in Singapore, Beijing and Hong Kong; the restaurant chain China Tang, and a short-lived home goods concept, Tang Tang Tang Tang.
In 2008, he received the Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his charity work.
Despite his failing health, Tang appears to have kept a busy schedule until the end of his life: He was meant to speak at the FT Weekend Festival on Sept. 2.
Tang is survived by his wife Lucy, children Victoria and Edward from a previous marriage, and grandson Rocco.