16 July 2019
A beauty pageant crown is not worth much for anyone but the owner who considers it priceless. Photo: Xinhua
A beauty pageant crown is not worth much for anyone but the owner who considers it priceless. Photo: Xinhua

Moneylender demands Miss Hong Kong crown

How much is a Miss Hong Kong crown really worth?

To the few winners of that most coveted symbol of the feminine ideal, it’s priceless. How can you put a price tag on the tears, fears, anxiety, the months of grueling preparation and training, the exhausting days and sleepless nights, the klieg lights and glamor, and the tense minutes that culminated in that moment of ecstasy of being proclaimed the fairest of them all?

But for one financial institution, the crown is worth a few million Hong Kong dollars, if it can get the item – plus a San Francisco home.

It emerged that a moneylender asked 1999 Miss Hong Kong Winnie Young to hand over her crown and the home that she had pledged for a HK$2.4 million loan.

According to a court filing, Young, 48, and her husband Simon Wong had mortgaged her crown and the San Francisco apartment to secure a loan from Trinity Aim Capital, which they had intended to use for their business, a small school called Little Einstein Academy.

But they have failed to repay the full loan, which has now risen to HK$3.76 million. 

That is why the lender wants to have her crown.

It is doubtful if the crown is worth that much, considering that the item, though the object of desire of countless young and beauteous ladies, is made of anything but real diamonds and precious stones.

(The Miss Universe crown, according to a CNN report, is valued at US$300,000, but that’s because it is encrusted with more than 300 small but absolutely real diamonds and five large blue topaz stones.)

Many past winners of the Hong Kong beauty pageant, which is now in its 45th year, have told the local press that their crown is safely tucked in a closet or under the bed, something that brings a lot of fond memories but almost impossible to monetize.

In fact, it is highly possible that the lender agreed to accept Miss Young’s crown as a collateral on the assumption that it holds immeasurable value to the owner, who is expected to do her utmost to repay the loan to be able to keep the item.

And now the lender is probably banking on the same assumption to get its money back, knowing that the crown is not worth much but represents a lot of image and reputation to the owner.

This reminds us of a similar case in 2015, when an HSBC subsidiary came under fire for tendering 3,000 belongings of the late cantopop singer and actress Anita Mui. The articles included a trophy that she won from her first singing competition and even underwear.

Some of her friends decided to buy the items, which fetched HK$100 to HK$10,000, to protect her memory, but the online auction put HSBC Trustee in a bad light and gave the public the impression that banks would do anything for money.

In the case of Young and her husband, this is the not first time that the couple was put in the spotlight for their financial woes.

In March they were sued by the American Schools Foundation and the American Education Foundation for alleged irregularities when they were connected with the companies, according to the Standard.

Their Golden Gate International Kindergarten, which was set up in 2013, shut down three months ago.

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EJ Insight writer

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