Cecil Chao

Tycoon's ex-partner Terri sues lawyers for negligence

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 October, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 September, 2017, 2:35pm

MODEL Terri Holladay, the former partner of millionaire businessman Cecil Chao Sze-tsung, is suing two solicitors' firms for negligence.

Ms Holladay, 29, who bore a son to the flamboyant property magnate, has worked as a model for the Elite Modelling Agency following the highly publicised split in 1995.

She is suing Fred Kan and Company and Stephenson Harwood and Lo, and interlocutory proceedings are due to be held on Wednesday, with the case estimated to take six to nine months to come to court.

Ms Holladay spoke out shortly after her 1993 'marriage' to Mr Chao, 60, was revealed as having no validity in law, telling the Sunday Morning Post Magazine she 'felt as if someone had killed me' on learning the truth.

After a lavish engagement party in 1992, the couple were reported to have wed at a quiet ceremony in Singapore a few months before the birth of their son, Roman.

As his 'wife', the woman often called Terri Holladay Chao was pursued by paparazzi at high society functions.

As his estranged girlfriend, she was pursued by debt collectors at work.

In July last year, the Standard Chartered Bank sued her for $74,636 in overdue credit card payments, delivering the writ to the modelling agency where she worked.

For four years, Ms Holiday had lived in a palatial Pokfulam mansion, with a private helicopter and personal pilot on permanent standby, a five-bedroomed oceangoing motor-cruiser with helipad and a fleet of Rolls-Royces.

The fairytale romance between the tycoon and the American-Vietnamese beauty began in a Wan Chai nightclub in 1991, when she was holidaying and he sent a bottle of vintage champagne to her table.

Within weeks, Mr Chao and his new lover were vacationing together in Rome.

Despite an age difference of more than three decades, the love affair blossomed.

The model has said she fell in love with him the moment he penned the words 'Cecil loves Terri' on a graffiti-covered Italian wall.

Shanghai-born Mr Chao's father was a lawyer-turned-businessman, who imported cigarettes into China for a major United States tobacco company before starting shipping firm Wah Kwong. The family moved to Hong Kong in 1948.

After studying in Britain, Mr Chao became an architect to the well-connected, forming links with property developers such as Henderson Land billionaire Lee Shau-kee.

His firm Cheuk Nang Properties has gathered upmarket buildings in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne.