James Dyson, the billionaire famous for buying Singapore’s most expensive penthouse in 2019, has moved back to the UK

james dyson singapore penthouse
Dyson paid $54 million for the 3-floor penthouse in July 2019 and then sold it at a loss in October 2020.

Billionaire James Dyson, inventor of the Dyson vacuum cleaner and a notable Singapore resident for about two years, has moved his main address back to the United Kingdom, Benjamin Stupples reported for Bloomberg, citing filings for Dyson’s companies including his family office.

Dyson made headlines for paying $54 million for a three-story penthouse atop Singapore’s tallest building in July 2019, breaking the city-state’s real-estate record. That same year, he relocated the Dyson headquarters to Singapore from the UK and opened a branch of his family office in the city-state.

Estimates of Dyson’s personal net worth range from around $10 billion to as high as $29 billion, with his wealth stemming from his holdings in Dyson Holdings Pte., the UK’s best-selling vacuum cleaner, according to Bloomberg.

james dyson singapore house
James Dyson’s home

It’s unclear why Dyson, 73, has switched his residency back to his home country. In October 2020, he sold his Singapore penthouse at a $7 million loss, but he still reportedly owns another home in Singapore, a bungalow worth a reported 50 million Singapore dollars, or nearly $38 million.

Dyson’s company, which currently employs about 1,400 people in Singapore, said last week that the company would “shortly” be moving into its new headquarters at an old power station in Singapore, according to the Business Times.

“We do not comment on private family matters and nothing has changed in respect of the company,” a Dyson spokesperson told Bloomberg. “The structure of the group and the business rationale underpinning it are unaltered.”

Representatives from Dyson’s company and charitable foundation did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment for this story.

Dyson, who designed the world’s first bagless vacuum cleaner in 1983, also owns a 300-acre estate in the English countryside. On Wednesday, his luxury yacht, Nahlin, was spotted moored off England’s Cornish Coast, photos on Getty Images show.

james dyson yacht
Dyson’s luxury motor yacht “Nahlin” moored off the Cornish Coast on April 21, 2021 in Falmouth, England.

Dyson may be spending less time in the city-state, but other wealthy foreigners seem to be more interested in Singapore than ever. The number of ultra-wealthy people in Singapore grew in 2020 despite the pandemic, according to Knight Frank’s annual Wealth Report. In the past six months, billionaire Google cofounder Sergey Brin and hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio both announced they’d be setting up family offices in Singapore.

Singapore’s low taxes have long attracted foreign investors, and the city-state’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has “cemented the country’s traditional safe haven status” for the ultra-rich, Wendy Tang, Knight Frank’s Group Managing Director in Singapore, said in a recent report.

“When coupled with strong and enduring economic fundamentals, stable governance, and an attractively competitive tax regime, Singapore offers a break in the clouds that pushed some of the world’s mega-rich to have a presence here in recent years,” Tang said.

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Empty apartments and plummeting rents in the world’s most expensive housing market: How the exodus out of Hong Kong could change its real-estate scene in 2021

hong kong
China’s new national security law sparked an exodus from Hong Kong.

For years, Hong Kong has been notorious for its astronomical real-estate prices. In 2020, it was named the world’s priciest housing market for the 10th year in a row.

But 2021 could be a year of major change for the city’s real-estate market. Hong Kong residents have been flocking to the United Kingdom since China passed a controversial new national security law last summer. In January, a new UK visa scheme made it even easier for Hong Kongers to move there. The British government said it expects more than 300,000 Hong Kongers to move to the UK in the next five years under the new scheme.

In their wake, Hong Kong’s infamously high rents could drop 10% and vacancy rates could hit an 18-year high, bringing a major shake-up to Hong Kong’s real-estate market, according to the South China Morning Post, who cited a new report from Bloomberg Intelligence.

An exodus from one of the world’s priciest cities

Hong Kong’s high cost of living and housing inequality are well documented. While the wealthy drop hundreds of millions on mansions and build “Versailles-like” villas, many residents can only afford to live in tiny “coffin homes.”

Even the COVID-19 pandemic and months of social unrest didn’t make have too much of an impact on Hong Kong’s prices in 2020. Rents stayed high last year and home prices dropped only 4% between May 2019 and October 2020, according to Reuters.

'Vibrant Hong Kong' by @leemumford8 (UK)
Hong Kong has long been the world’s priciest city for housing, but things could change in 2021.

But 2021 could be a different story. After China passed a national security law last year that threatened life imprisonment for pro-democracy protesters, the UK saw record numbers of Hong Kongers applying for British National (Overseas) passports, known as BN(O)s, which allow them to live in the UK but don’t automatically grant them the right to work.

The British government said it issued about 200,000 such passports to Hong Kongers in the first 10 months of the year at a rate of about five passports every minute.

In January, the UK made it it even easier for Hong Kongers to live and work there, launching a new visa scheme for BN(O) holders to live and work in Britain and apply for citizenship after six years, according to a government statement. They can apply for the visas online from their homes in Hong Kong.

In total, roughly three million Hong Kong residents are eligible to apply for BN(Os) and move to the UK, according to a British government study.

China denounced the UK government’s recent move and said it would no longer recognize BN(O)s as valid travel documents.

london rutland gate mansion
Wealthy Hong Kongers are snapping up luxury real estate in London.

An emigration boom

The influx of Hong Kongers to the UK over the past year has resulted in a surge in demand for luxury real estate in London, local agents told Insider’s Bill Bostock last summer.

In 2020, London homes that sold for 10 million pounds (about $14 million) or higher were “dominated” by buyers from Hong Kong and China, luxury real-estate agency Beauchamp Estates said in a January report provided to Insider.

Hong Kong, meanwhile, could have 66,683 homes sitting empty in 2021, up from 52,370 last year, according to the Bloomberg report.

“This is the biggest emigration boom in Hong Kong’s history,” Andrew Lo, a Hong Hong emigration consultant, told Nikkei Asia last month. “People from different levels of the society, aged from 18 to 80, are all talking about emigration.”

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Look inside a Singapore supermarket billionaire’s $50 million mansion, which combines a historic bungalow with an ultra-modern house and has a 100-foot swimming pool

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee
The home is a “good class bungalow,” Singapore’s most rare and coveted type of real estate.

  • Singapore billionaire Lim Hock Leng lives in a $50 million historic bungalow combined with a modern mansion.
  • Lim, who co-owns Singapore’s 3rd-largest supermarket chain with his two brothers, has amassed a fortune of $1.2 billion with his brothers.
  • The mansion features a swimming pool that starts indoors and extends outside.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
On a secluded, leafy street in Singapore, supermarket billionaire Lim Hock Leng lives in a $50 million bungalow.

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

Lim is the co-owner and managing director of Singapore’s third-largest supermarket chain, Sheng Siong, which operates more than 60 stores in the city-state.

Lim’s older brother, Lim Hock Chee, is Sheng Siong’s CEO, while the eldest brother, Lim Hock Eng, is executive chairman. Together, the three brothers own a majority stake in the company, putting their combined net worth at $1.2 billion, according to Forbes.

Lim’s home is a “good class bungalow,” Singapore’s most rare and coveted type of real estate.

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

The city-state has a limited number of good class bungalows, making them a status symbol reserved for the ultra-wealthy.

The design of Lim’s home combines a historic Singapore bungalow with an ultra-modern home.

“From the front, it looks very unassuming,” one local real-estate agent, who has visited the home and wished to remain anonymous, told Insider. “But if you look from the back it’s a monstrous house that towers over the whole neighborhood.”

The back of the home shows off the modern addition that was designed as “as a series of stepped terraces with green roofs,” according to the architecture firm.

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

Singapore-based architecture firm Ta.le Architects oversaw the restoration of the colonial bungalow and designed the new bungalow.

Lim paid 35 million Singapore dollars – or about $26.2 million – for the land and the historic colonial bungalow in 2015, a spokesperson for his company confirmed to Insider.

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

The executive then spent roughly SG$30 million ($22.4 million) to restore the bungalow and build the attached modern bungalow, which was completed in 2018, the spokesperson said.

That brings Lim’s total investment in the property to nearly $50 million.

The architecture firm, Ta.le Architects, dubbed the finished property “Hidden House.”

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

Source: Ta.le Architects

The home has three courtyards, one of which features a grassy lawn and sits between the historic bungalow and the modern bungalow.

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

Source: Ta.le Architects

Another courtyard separates the living room and the dining room of the new bungalow and brings light and air into the center of the house.

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

Source: Ta.le Architects

The third courtyard on the lowest level of the home is where you’ll find the 98-foot swimming pool, which extends from indoors to outside of the house.

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

Above the pool is a staircase designed to “glow in the night,” according to the architects.

Indeed, the entire rear facade of the home does appear to glow at nighttime.

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

Source: Ta.le Architects

The bungalow sprawls across 33,700 square feet.

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

Source: Ta.le Architects

Rather than going for pure opulence, the architects said they designed the home to create a “minimalistic luxurious experience.”

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

Source: Ta.le Architects

Last month, Lim gave a tour of his home to the South China Morning Post and told the publication that he shares his home with different generations of his family.

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

Source: South China Morning Post

The architects therefore designed large bedrooms – almost like independent apartments – to accommodate Lim’s four children and his parents.

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

Source: Ta.le Architects

The bungalow’s formal dining area can accommodate at least 15 people.

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

Source: Ta.le Architects

Many of the home’s common areas appear to open up to the grassy terraces.

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

Source: Ta.le Architects

Photos of the home show lavish marble bathrooms. There’s also a massive walk-in closet.

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

Source: Ta.le Architects

The spacious office seems appropriate for the managing director of a major supermarket group.

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

Source: Ta.le Architects

The home’s amenities include a fitness center, a sauna and squash court, a pool table, and a home theater with 14 seats.

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

Source: Ta.le Architects

When he set out to build the house, Lim said he told the architects, “‘You are building this house for my neighbors, not me.'”

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

“When you build a house, that house has to become scenery for your neighbors,” Lim told the Post during the tour.

Lim told the Post that he considers spending so much money on a house to be a bit “extravagant.”

singapore billionaire bungalow Lim Hock Chee

But for Lim, the cost was justified. His father always wanted the whole family to live together but couldn’t afford a large enough home, Lim said, so he sees the house as realizing his father’s dream.

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Grab, the food-delivery giant backed by Softbank, is going public in the US via the largest-ever SPAC merger, valuing it at $40 billion

Tan Hooi Ling
Tan Hooi Ling, chief operating officer and cofounder of Grab.

  • “Superapp” Grab is going public in the US via a SPAC merger with Altimeter Growth.
  • The deal is set to value Grab, backed by Softbank, at $39.6 billion.
  • The Singapore-based app offers services ranging from deliveries to financial services.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Southeast Asian ride-hailing and food delivery giant Grab, whose backers include SoftBank and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, announced Tuesday that it planned to go public in the US via a merger with blank-check company Altimeter Growth.

The deal is set to value Grab at $39.6 billion, and would be the biggest-ever special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger.

A SPAC is a company created solely to merge with, or acquire, another business and take it public, making it a cheaper, faster alternative to an IPO, Insider’s Martin Daks reported.

Singapore-based Grab said it expected its securities be traded on Nasdaq under the symbol GRAB “in the coming months.”

Read more: Grab’s cofounders took a $10,000 business school prize and turned it into a ‘super app’ worth $40 billion as part of the largest SPAC deal ever

Grab describes itself as a “superapp.” It offers services ranging from deliveries to financial services.

Grab started as a ride-hailing venture in Malaysia in 2012 and is now the region’s most valuable startup.

Grab said that it decided to go public because of its strong financial performance in 2020. It posted a gross merchandise volume (GMV) of $12.5 billion, which is more than double its 2018 figure, despite the pandemic.

The company added that it accounted for about 72% of Southest Asia’s GMV for ride-hailing, and 50% for online food delivery, as well as 23% of regional total payment volume for digital wallet payments in 2020.

Shares in Altimeter Group were last up around 9% at $15.16 in US pre-market trading.

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I got a tour of Citi’s new wealth hub in Singapore for high-net-worth clients, a 30,000-square-foot space with ‘garden pods’ for meetings. Look inside.

singapore citi wealth hub
The space features “garden pods” for meetings.

  • I toured Citi’s new wealth hub in Singapore for its high-net-worth clients.
  • It was designed to cater to clients with assets starting at 250,000 Singapore dollars, or about $186,000.
  • It felt more like an upscale lounge than a bank. It was full of trees, a free café, and “garden pods” for meetings.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Global investment bank Citi has opened a 30,000-square-foot wealth hub on Singapore’s Orchard Road, the city-state’s glitzy luxury shopping thoroughfare.

singapore citi wealth hub

The Citi Wealth Hub on Orchard Road, Citi’s largest wealth hub globally, was created to cater to the bank’s Citigold and Citigold Private Clients, who must have at least 250,000 Singapore dollars ($186,000) and SG$1.5 million ($1.1 million) in investable assets respectively. 

The idea is to bring together Citi’s Singapore-based relationship managers and wealth specialists in a central location where they can advise these clients on building their wealth, according to a Citi spokesperson. 

While Citi doesn’t disclose its numbers of Citigold and Citigold Private Clients, there’s no shortage of wealthy potential clients in Singapore.

singapore

The city-state is home to 3,732 ultra-high-net-worth individuals, or individuals worth at least $30 million, according to Knight Frank’s 2021 Wealth Report.

In the 2021 Global Financial Centres Index that ranks global financial centers, Singapore ranked fifth overall after New York, London, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.

“Citi has an enormous opportunity to serve the growing affluent segment in Singapore,” Brendan Carney, CEO of Citibank Singapore Limited and Global Consumer Banking, said in a statement announcing the opening of the wealth hub in December. 

I recently got a tour of the Citi Wealth Hub, which spans 30,000 square feet across four floors. The seventh floor is dedicated to the Citigold Centre for Citigold clients, who must have at least SG$250,000 ($186,000) in assets.

singapore citi wealth hub

Clients are greeted by a sleek reception area with fresh flowers. Like everywhere else in Singapore right now, everyone is required to check in with contact tracing app Trace Together.

The Citigold Centre is a large glass-walled atrium with meeting pods, a cafe, and an abundance of greenery.

Singapore citi wealth hub

Ministry of Design, the interior design firm responsible for the space’s biophilic design, refers to the atrium as a “Banking Conservatory.”

It certainly didn’t feel like any bank I’d been in before.

singapore citi wealth hub

Instead of tellers or conventional meeting rooms, there are “garden pods” where clients can meet with their wealth managers.

Each pod is set up with a round table, four chairs, and a screen where a relationship manager can advise the client using a larger screen instead of a laptop or tablet.

singapore citi wealth hub

Source: Citi

A free cafe serves Lavazza coffee, TWG tea, and chocolate bon bons from local pastry chef Janice Wong.

singapore citi wealth hub

Source: Citi

And there are other nooks throughout where clients can meet with their relationship manager or just lounge with a coffee.

singapore citi wealth hub

Source: Citi

The most exclusive part of the wealth club is the Citigold Private Client Centre on the eighth floor.

singapore citi wealth hub

To become a Citigold Private Client, you must have investable assets of at least SG$1.5 million, or about $1.1 million. 

These clients gain access not only to the wealth hub in Singapore, but to a dedicated relationship manager who consults with a team of specialists, including portfolio counselors and mortgage specialists, to best advise the clients.

The Citigold Private Client Centre is a smaller, intimate space, filled with small meeting nooks – and still plenty of greenery.

singapore citi wealth hub

Source: Citi

From this area, Citigold Private Client members can order something from the cafe with one of the staff and have it delivered to them.

singapore citi wealth hub

Source: Citi

The wealth hub has 30 client advisory rooms that are named after national trees and flowers of countries where Citi has a presence.

singapore citi wealth hub

Source: Citi

The Citi employees who work at the wealth hub occupy the sixth floor.

singapore citi wealth hub

Plastic dividers separate individual workspaces in the plant-filled office.

The wealth hub can house more than 300 relationship managers and wealth specialists, but in Singapore, only 75% of a company’s employees are currently allowed to be in the office at one time.

singapore citi wealth hub

Source: The Straits Times

My tour of the Citi Wealth Hub made it clear that the luxe space was designed for a world where in-person meetings and events were the norm.

singapore citi wealth hub

During my tour, the Citi spokesperson emphasized that the wealth hub was meant to bring clients together with their relationship managers and wealth specialist for in-person rather than online meetings.

The initial plan was also to hold seminars and talks with business leaders, according to the Citi spokesperson. Right now, the only events are online.

In the pandemic, people have grown more accustomed than ever to virtual meetings, and in-person events have become much more limited.

Still, Singapore is likely closer to a return to in-person normalcy than most other countries, as the city-state has contained the virus and reported only 30 deaths throughout the pandemic.

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Home prices in Seoul rose by 22% last year, the biggest increase in any major city in Asia

Seoul South korea
Home prices in Seoul increased by 22%.

  • The average home price in Seoul, South Korea, rose by 22% year over year in 2020.
  • That’s the biggest price increase of any major city in Asia, per a new report from Knight Frank.
  • Home prices in New Zealand, Turkey, and Russia also saw major increases.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Home prices in Seoul are taking off.

The South Korean city saw a 22% increase in home prices from Q4 2019 through Q4 2020, according to a new report from global wealth consultancy Knight Frank.

It’s the biggest price increase among all major cities in Asia, and it far eclipses the next-highest price change amongst cities in the region. No other Asian city tracked a greater than 10% increase in the same time period.

Seoul, a city of around 9.9 million, is trying to position itself as an alternative to Asia’s financial hubs, and many locals are finding themselves priced out of the real estate market.

The city has faced an increasingly dire affordability crisis since President Moon Jae-in took office in 2017. Despite the government announcing nearly two dozen measures to curb increases over the past three years, home prices in Seoul have risen by 50% since 2017, per a Reuters report.

Skyrocketing home prices in cities across New Zealand and Russia

Urban home prices globally increased by an average of 5.6% in 2020, Knight Frank reported. That’s up from 2019, when home prices saw a 3.2% increase.

In a press release, Victoria Garrett, head of residential, Asia-Pacific, for the firm said buyer confidence is expected to grow with vaccine rollout and addressed fears of a housing bubble.

“Governments are now starting to watch residential markets closer to minimise the risk of asset bubbles,” Garrett said.

The three biggest home price changes over the 12-month period were all recorded in Turkey, though the report notes price growth in Turkey is linked to high inflation and changes with the lira. Ankara, Izmir, and Istanbul led the ranking with 30.2%, 29.4%, and 27.9% changes respectively.

New Zealand’s home prices are also taking off, with two major cities – Auckland at a 26.4% increase and Wellington at 18.4% – ranking among the top 10 cities globally. Bloomberg recently reported that the housing market in New Zealand is “brutal,” citing a dilapidated bungalow in an Auckland suburb that sold for NZ$1.81 million and a national median home price that’s 6.7 times higher than the average annual income.

Russian cities, too, made appearances in the report’s top ten rankings with St. Petersburg (25.4% increase) and Moscow (21.2% increase) at No. 5 and No. 7 respectively.

For its global residential cities index, Knight Frank tracks the movement in mainstream residential prices across 150 cities worldwide.

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Beijing has surpassed New York City to become the new billionaire capital of the world

beijing china
For the first time ever, Beijing is home to more billionaires than NYC.

The world officially has a new billionaire capital. For the first time ever, Beijing is home to more billionaires than New York City, according to Forbes’ annual World’s Billionaires List for 2021.

The Chinese capital gained 33 new billionaires in 2020, bringing its total to 100 billionaires and just edging out New York City’s 99 billionaires, per Forbes. The Big Apple added only seven new billionaires in the same time span. In terms of total population, New York City is about 40% of the size of Beijing, with a population of 8.4 million versus Beijing’s roughly 21 million.

Beijing’s richest resident is Zhang Yiming, the founder of TikTok parent company ByteDance, who’s worth $35.6 billion. In New York City, ex-mayor Michael Bloomberg is the wealthiest, with a net worth of $59 million.

TikTok founder Zhang Yiming
TikTok founder Zhang Yiming is Beijing’s richest resident, with a $35.6 billion net worth.

The US has long been home to more billionaires than any other country in the world, but China has been catching up. China and Hong Kong have minted 210 new billionaires in the past year, more than any other nation, according to the Forbes report.

Five Chinese cities rank among the 10 cities with the most billionaires, including special administrative region Hong Kong in third place with 80 billionaires, Shenzhen in fifth with 68, and Shanghai in sixth place with 64.

The only other US city to make the list was San Francisco, ranked eighth with 48 billionaires.

The world’s ultra-wealthy got even richer last year despite a pandemic and economic recessions. Globally, 660 people became new billionaires, bringing the world total to 2,755 billionaires worth a collective $13.1 trillion, per Forbes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the gap between the world’s billionaires and everybody else. In the US, for example, billionaires grew 44% richer in the pandemic, Lina Batarags recently reported for Insider. In the same time period, 80 million Americans lost their jobs and nearly 8 million slipped into poverty.

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A tech founder’s wife just paid $96 million for a house in Singapore’s most exclusive neighborhood, marking the priciest home sale of the year

30 nassim road house singapore ladyvale
A Google Maps street view of the home’s entrance on Nassim Road.

The wife of a Singapore tech founder paid 128.8 million Singapore dollars, about $95.6 million, for a house on exclusive Nassim Road, according to property website EdgeProp.

The home sits on a 32,160-square-foot lot next to the British High Commission on Nassim Road, Singapore’s most prestigious road that’s lined with embassies and multimillion-dollar mansions. Jin Xiao Qun, who’s married to Shi Xu, the founder of Nanofilm Technologies International, bought the property from businesswoman Oei Siu Hoa, who’s also known as Sukmawati Widjaja, per the report.

Jin’s purchase is the priciest single home sale of the year, according to property records. The highest overall residential sale came earlier this month when a buyer paid SG$293 million – about $217.5 million – for all 20 units of an ultra-luxury condo building.

nassim road singapore
Nassim Road is a lush, quiet neighborhood full of mansions and embassies. Jin’s home not pictured.

Sunita Gill, CEO and founder of real-estate firm Singapore Luxury Homes, said she was surprised by the high purchase price of the Nassim Road property, noting that it’s “not ready for move-in.”

“Usually purchases like that are influenced either by a potential feng shui decision or external advice on why she was willing to pay this kind of a price,” Gill told Insider.

Known as Ladyvale Bungalow, the house was built in 1964 and sold by the British High Commission in 2000 for SG$19.3 million, according to Tatler Singapore. Oei, the most recent owner, bought the home for SG$25.5 million in 2003.

Although the home is designated as a “good class bungalow” – the most rare and coveted type of housing in Singapore – it will likely require a full renovation that could cost from SG$500 to SG$1,000 per square foot, Gill said.

“So if you calculate that into size of the property, she is potentially looking at another 20 to 30 million [Singapore dollars] just on rebuild cost,” she said.

Jin could not immediately be reached for comment for this story.

The Nassim Road home sale also breaks Singapore’s price-per-square-foot record, which was set in 2019 when vacuum billionaire James Dyson paid SG$50 million for a home on a 15,101-square-foot lot on nearby Cluny Road.

james dyson singapore house
James Dyson’s bungalow in Singapore.

Bruce Lye, cofounder and managing partner at Singapore Realtors Inc, said he thought the price was fair for the location, even considering the cost of potential renovations.

“A piece of regular land in Nassim is like fine art or wine,” Lye told Insider, adding that the prices of such properties “keep reaching new highs all the time.”

The deal hints that 2021 could be another banner year for Singapore real estate after home prices recently reached a two-year high as Singaporeans and foreign nationals snap up homes during the pandemic.

“Our high-end market is very resilient,” Lye said. “Singapore is much sought after due to our safe haven status for ultra-high-net-worth individuals. With amendments to the Global Investor Program and benefits of setting up family offices in Singapore, we will see many more eye-popping deals being inked in the near future.”

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Meet China’s ‘Lipstick King,’ an outspoken 28-year-old e-commerce streamer who fans adore and brands fear

Li Jiaqi Austin
“Lipstick King” Austin Li Jiaqi introduces his live-streaming studio on October 18, 2020 in Shanghai, China.

  • At 28, Austin Li Jiaqi is known as the “Lipstick King” in China.
  • Li gained his moniker when he tried on 380 lipsticks during a seven-hour live-stream.
  • His sassy demeanor and snazzy catchphrase “OMG! Sisters, buy this!” have netted him a cult following.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

At first glance, Austin Li Jiaqi looks like the boy-next-door: he’s always clean-shaven and typically dressed in earth-toned, well-pressed button-down shirts. But when his stream on Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao goes live, a different side of him comes out to play.

“We’re starting now!” he claps and proclaims loudly, as millions of followers and ardent fans pour in to see him try lipsticks and other beauty products live.

“Are you ready to buy, buy, and buy?”

China’s $38.6 billion beauty industry is the second largest in the world behind the US (which rakes in an estimated $56 billion annually) and is on trend to be the biggest market by 2023, according to the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business.

In the last several years, Li’s built a following of more than 7 million on the Chinese social media platform Weibo and more than 35 million on TikTok. His recommendations can be the difference between a product selling out or sitting on the shelves collecting dust.

The live-streaming sales powerhouse has come a long way from his humble beginnings as a L’Oreal shop assistant in Nanchang, a small city in southern China. He now holds joint live-streams with Chinese singers and actors and has become a society fixture at political conferences, beauty conventions, and gala events for luxury brands and magazines.

Helped along by a full staff of assistants and live-streaming technicians, he rattles off his signature catchphrase, “OMG! Sisters, buy this!” and hawks products on his marathon live-streams from a snazzy studio in Shanghai.

What sets Li apart from other streamers appears to be his cutting – and often snarky – reviews of every product he dislikes, be it Calvin Klein or Chanel. His friendly, peppy tone of voice, combined with how he seems unafraid of offending luxury brands and major retailers with his scathing takes, puts him in stark contrast to other Chinese beauty streamers, who avoid treading on thin ice where key industry players are concerned.

Weibo users are especially intrigued by Li’s often vivid descriptions of his products. Coral blush isn’t “peach”: it’s the ripe fruit of summer, tender to the touch, a shade that’ll make boys stop in their tracks. That necklace isn’t just “shiny – it reminds him of the stars, the shimmering of a million galaxies.

And then there’s the lipstick.

From 2017 to 2018, Li cemented his position as the country’s “口红一哥” (or “lipstick king”): first, when he tried on 380 lipsticks in a seven-hour marathon stream, and then when he sold 15,000 lipsticks in 5 minutes, beating Alibaba founder Jack Ma in a one-on-one selling competition.

The South China Morning Post also reported that in 2019, Li set a Guinness record for “the most lipstick applications to models in 30 seconds,” putting lipstick on four different models in just 30 seconds.

Most recently, Li was named one of the “Time100 Next 2021”, a list of emerging leaders around the world who are “shaping the future.”

Little is known about Li’s private life.

Despite social media chatter about a rumored romance with his long-time assistant, Li maintains that he has “no time to date.”

“I do 389 broadcasts in 365 days. I don’t have time to eat or sleep, so do you think I have a personal life?” Li told news portal Sohu in 2020.

Li notoriously keeps to himself, but in 2020, the Chinese press reported that he purchased a swanky three-story penthouse in private apartment complex Yunjin Oriental, which is located in the middle of a glitzy riverside district just off the Shanghai Bund.

Chinese media estimates that Li earns anywhere between $10 to $20 million from live-streaming every month, and Time has projected that Li will be worth $15 billion by 2023 off of his earnings from China’s live-streaming e-commerce industry alone.

Those lips don’t lie: Li’s path to becoming China’s emperor of e-commerce

Austin Li livestreaming
Austin Li Jiaqi applies lipstick while live-streaming on e-commerce platform Taobao in Shanghai, China.

Li’s business model is simple: brands allot a certain amount of stock for Li to sell on his stream, and he takes a cut for his services. But the sheer volume of the items that Lee sells, coupled with the line-up of brands that want to foster a working relationship with him, has made him a force to be reckoned with in China’s e-commerce market.

Products are sold in real-time during marathon live-streams that can last from anywhere between six and eight hours. These days, Li sells everything from skincare products to household appliances and snacks. Customers are motivated to lock in impulse buys as Li counts down from 10, making gleeful announcements on his stream when thousands of products sell out in a matter of seconds.

But just as it might be the pinnacle of success for a brand to get a shout-out from Li, some might prefer he leave them alone.

Whether brands like it or not, Li’s endorsement can have a huge impact on sales.

In 2020, it was reported by Chinese media Jing Daily that a five-minute segment on Li’s stream caused the sales of a widely-anticipated 24-shade line of lipsticks from Hermès to tank in China.

When reviewing the Rouge Hermès line on his Taobao stream, he told his 12 million viewers that the shades looked “cheap.”

“There’s no soul in these colors,” Li said, sighing. “It’s unflattering, just like the shades your old mother would use.”

A clip of his Hermés live-stream went viral on Weibo, as the hashtag #李佳琦的表情 (translated: The Look On Li Jiaqi’s Face) trended, praising him for his honest – albeit cutting – reviews.

His bluntness makes him a standout in a crowded e-commerce market and wins him a devoted cache of supporters.

“Never change, Jiaqi,” a fan wrote on social media after the Hermés stream. “This is why we know we can rely on you!”

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‘Is this patriot enough?’ Asian-American Army veteran protests racism by displaying wounds from military service during a town hall meeting

lee wong war veteran
Lee Wong shows off his scars at a meeting in West Chester Township, on March 23, 2020.

  • An Asian-American Army veteran showed his scars in a board meeting to prove his patriotism.
  • Ohio township trustee Lee Wong used his speech to criticize anti-Asian violence.
  • The impromptu moment came after several racially-motivated attacks against Asian-Americans.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

An Asian-American government official revealed his military scars during a town hall meeting on Tuesday to protest the recent wave of racially-motivated attacks in the country.

During a meeting of the West Chester Township, Ohio, Board of Trustees, chairman Lee Wong, 69, lifted his shirt and showed his scars to prove his “patriotism,” NBC News reported. Wong served in the US Army for 20 years.

Footage of the moment, which has gone viral on social media, shows Wong unbuttoning his shirt while speaking about how tired he is of the Anti-Asian rhetoric he’s witnessed in America.

“Don’t get me wrong, people love me in this community and I love them, too, but there are some ignorant people that would come up to me and say that I don’t look American enough or patriotic enough,” Wong says in the video, according to the BBC. “I’m not afraid. I don’t have to live in fear.”

The 69-year-old then stands up and raises his undershirt, revealing a big, dark scar across his chest.

“Here is my proof. This is sustained through my service in the U.S. military,” he says to the room. “Now, is this patriot enough?”

“Prejudice is hate, and that hate can be changed,” Wong continued. “We are human. We need to be kinder, gentler, to one another.”

Watch the powerful moment below.

Wong’s powerful statement comes in the aftermath of several racially-motivated attacks across the country.

Last week, eight people – six of whom were Asian women – were killed in a shooting in Atlanta, Georgia.

According to research published by Stop AAPI Hate on Tuesday, nearly 3,800 anti-Asian racist incidents were reported over the course of the pandemic in the US. Women made up 68% of these reports.

Wong, who came to the US from China at the age of 18, describes himself as a moderate Republican, according to NBC News.

Wong served from 1975 to 1995 and sustained his injuries at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, Mail Online reported.

He has served more than one term as the president of the board of trustees of the Ohio town, where more than 90 percent of the population of 66,000 is White, according to MEAWW.

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