'King of Shoes' Patrick Tang Kim-kwan won a partial victory yesterday in a court battle to regain ownership of four properties he bought for his ex-mistress.
The High Court ruled that Tang, 69, the billionaire head of the shoe-trading empire ATG Sourcing, could take back properties in Hung Hom and Tai Kok Tsui from his ex-lover Karen Lee Chi-ting, 42, previously known as Tang's 'third wife'.
But Tang, who has an estimated fortune of HK$2 billion, lost his claim to two other properties - an office in Jordan and half ownership of a house in Sai Kung, which together are now worth more than HK$20 million.
The four properties are together thought to be worth about HK$28 million.
Tang waged the court battle because he was 'sad and embarrassed' by Lee's fling with former Mr Hong Kong Francois Huynh, which was exposed by a magazine in 2009, ending their seven-year relationship.
'The result is like the division of wealth between a divorcing husband and wife,' Lee said, adding that she hoped the matter could now end. 'The husband gets some and the wife gets some. There is no winner and no loser in this case.'
Tang did not return calls for comment.
Deputy Judge Mr Justice Anthony Houghton said Tang had used the properties to 'continue, and perhaps deepen his relationship' with Lee. The judge said that Tang said at times that the properties belonged to Lee to 'boast of his generosity'.
'Such comments after the purchase of the property do not convert something that was not a gift into a gift unless that is the clear intention of what was said or done subsequently,' the judge wrote.
He ruled that Tang would get the ownership of a flat at Metro Harbour View, Tai Kok Tsui, and a flat at Royal Peninsula, Hung Hom.
The court heard evidence that Lee sold the Metro Harbour View property in 2005 for HK$2.1 million. The judge ordered Lee to pass the net sale proceeds to Tang.
But if Tang sells the Royal Peninsula property he will be able to keep only a third of the proceeds, as the judge found that there was an agreement between Tang, Lee and her brother that they would share the amount.
The judge rejected Tang's assertion that there was a condition that if Lee had an affair with another man she would have to give up her claim to a house at Marina Cove, Sai Kung, where she now lives with her eight-year-old daughter. The house is estimated to be worth HK$18 million.
He ruled that it was no more than 'a request for reassurance' and not a 'consensus'.