SINGAPORE - Celebrity hairstylist David Gan has built a reputation over the years as someone who is extremely generous towards his circle of famous friends.
So when TV hosts Ben Yeo and Quan Yifeng posted pictures online of themselves carrying Hermes Birkin bags worth over $100,000 each and thanking Gan for the "big presents" a few days ago, netizens assumed that Gan was playing Santa to the stars again.
In his photo on Instagram, Yeo, 36, wrote: "(David Gan) Thank you so much for this crazy present", before asking his followers to guess how much the bag costs.
He later revealed it to be $125,000 to the envy of many online users, who left comments such as "Wah!!!", "I also want!!!" and "Very generous of him (Gan)".
But when contacted, Gan, who also posted the same picture on Instagram, clarified that it was just a joke.
The candid Malaysia-born star crimper, who is in his 50s, told The New Paper over the phone in Mandarin: "They came to my house to film a variety programme and posed with my bags for fun. The bags belong to me."
He added matter-of-factly: "If they want the bags, they can tell me. I will give them when I die."
The two bags in question are a red crocodile 50cm Hermes Birkin and a black crocodile 50cm Hermes Birkin, which Gan said cost $135,000 and $125,000, respectively.
A check online shows that similar Birkin bags can fetch between $100,000 and $200,000.
Gan revealed that both bags were gifts from his Chinese multimillionaire employer Yuan Yuan, 35, for whom he is hairstylist and personal shopper.
He has been working in Beijing for Ms Yuan, who has a mining business and also deals in property and investments, since August 2013.
Gan, who has a collection of branded bags estimated to be worth $1 million, said most of his Hermes bags were presents from his customers and boss over the past 10 years.
He declined to reveal how many Hermes bags are in his collection as he thinks it will "create unnecessary fodder for gossip".
Gan occasionally posts pictures of his branded bags on his personal Instagram account.
Last year, he uploaded a photo of his crocodile Hermes Birkin filled to the brim with stacks of yuan. It created a stir as some netizens accused him of showing off, which led to a war of words online.
When speaking to TNP, he emphasised his kampung roots, saying: "I have no education and I don't splurge on these bags. They were given to me for my birthday or during the festive season as a result of my hard work and sincerity.
"What I want to say is that if a person works hard and puts in effort, he can get to where he wants to be in the future."
The hairstyling veteran of 35 years, who includes Asian A-listers such as Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi among his clientele, said he has since stopped his legendary Christmas gifting to his celeb pals.
In the past, he reportedly spent over $30,000 on Christmas presents such as branded bags and clothes for those close to him, including local celeb couple Fann Wong and Christopher Lee.
"Nowadays, when I travel and I see presents suitable for the different stars, I'll buy them. It can be a $5,000 cashmere top, it can be something small.
"The stars won't be so calculative with me just because I don't give them Christmas presents any more. We are friends because of fate."
Though Gan spent most of last year in China working for his boss, he flies back to Singapore occasionally to style local stars like Joanne Peh and Felicia Chin.
He misses Singapore and hopes to stay here longer this year and contribute to the local entertainment industry.
He lamented the lack of stars among the current crop of younger artistes, saying: "We need a next Zoe Tay and a next Fann Wong. We don't have artistes like them now."
So who, in Gan's eyes, has the potential to become a star?
"Joanne Peh definitely has the iconic star quality. Felicia Chin and Jesseca Liu too. I think Patricia Mok stands out too, because she is very loud."
These local personalities are known for their extensive collection of branded goods
Socialite Chua, a 40-year-old mother of two, owns about 200 Hermes Birkin and Kelly bags, which she displays in a glass case in her walk-in wardrobe, which is about the size of two average-sized bedrooms in her 10,000 sq ft bungalow.
Among her collection is a rare Hermes Himalayan Diamond Birkin and a special silver leather made-to-order bag. Chua also owns more than 70 pairs of designer shoes ranging from Christian Louboutin to Charlotte Olympia.
Miss Lim, who has more than 67,000 followers on her Instagram account, told The New Paper in an interview last year that she owns about 80 pairs of Christian Louboutin shoes and 40 Chanel bags. The 23-year-old is the daughter of billionaire tycoon Peter Lim, who owns Spanish football club Valencia CF.
The 25-year-old businessman, who is studying fashion at a university in California, owns at least 200 pairs of branded shoes, some costing more than $8,000. In total, his shoe collection, which includes brands like Givenchy and Christian Louboutin, is worth at least half a million dollars. He also has many Chanel bags as seen from his Instagram account.
His family runs a billion-dollar business and he started his own business when he was 17.
This article was first published on January 09, 2015.
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