'There was only $40,000 in the bag', Latest Others News - The New Paper

'There was only $40,000 in the bag'

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Top hairstylist David Gan (right) slammed for posting 'money bag' photo online, but he says it's not a big deal

Just call David Gan "Mr Moneybags".

The local celebrity hairstylist has been posting pictures on Instagram of himself with designer bags filled with cash, prompting some netizens to accuse him of showing off.

But Gan, 52, was unfazed and has lashed out at his critics.

The furore started last month with his first "money bag" post on Instagram.

And to prove that he would not bend to public opinion, he did it again earlier this week with another photograph that sparked a new war of words on Instagram.

The latest photo was a close-up shot of a Hermes Crocodile Birkin filled to the brim with stacks of yuan.

He told The New Paper: "There was only 196,000 yuan (S$40,000) in the bag and that can't even get you many things at high-end places like Hermes.

"Many people in China walk around with bags of money because sometimes, it's cheaper if you pay cash than with a credit card.

"I was in Beijing, so I posted a picture of what people usually do there.

"Why do people scold me? Unless you use a knife and cut me, if not, words will hurt much less and I will always fight back." (See report on facing page.)

So what is Gan doing with thousands of yuan?

As it turns out, the money is not even his. It belongs to his current employer, Chinese multi-millionaire Yuan Yuan. He has been her personal hairstylist and personal shopper in Beijing since August last year.

Gan said she had offered to buy over his hair salon, Passion, for $10 million just so he could "be by her side".

He rejected her offer, but agreed to work for her.

For the last eight months, Gan has been living at the Grand Hyatt Beijing hotel and has spent only about 10 days a month in Singapore.

He said that he is likely to work for Ms Yuan Yuan for another six months.



Gan declined to reveal how much he is paid daily, but claimed that it was equivalent to the average monthly salary of a Singapore corporate executive.

Every day, after he does Ms Yuan Yuan's hair, he is given a large sum of cash that could run into hundreds of thousands of yuan. This is so that he can shop for her while she is working.

Ms Yuan Yuan, 33, who is married with two daughters, deals in property and investments.

They first met when she went to Passion for a haircut on the recommendation of St. Regis hotel staff during her stay here four years ago.

Earlier this week, when Gan posted the picture of the bag of cash, he ended up spending the money on Hermes bags and apparel for her in a single spree.

He said: "This money is nothing to Yuan Yuan because she can go into a high-end store and if she asks me which bag is nice and I say all of them are, she will buy all.

"When I shop with her, she can spend up to $2 million on bags, clothes and accessories each time, some of which are presents for other people. She's a very generous and sweet lady.

"She flies me to Beijing on first class. Once, when I said it was cold in Beijing, she put me on her private jet and flew us to Sanya, which is warmer. It's a joy to work for her."

Still seething from his detractors' comments, Gan said that he will one-up his "money bag" pictures soon.

"Having money because you earned it through hard work is nothing to be ashamed of. If people don't like it, then don't look," he insisted.


"My next picture will be of me in my bathtub filled with my own money in US dollars."

Gan also has supporters on Instagram, who urged his detractors to stop harassing him.

Local singer and Singapore Idol runner-up Sylvester Sim told two of Gan's critics: "What's your problem? He has the money. Do you? It's not showing off if you can back it up."

Former local actress-host Sharon Au, who follows Gan on Instagram and prefers heavy self-censorship, feels that there should be freedom of self-expression on social media.

She said: "I know some people who even post about their net worth. I would never do that.

"Maybe I'm too careful, but to each his own."

That can't even get you many things at high-end places like Hermes.

- David Gan, on the 196,000 yuan (S$40,000) that he filled a Hermes Crocodile Birkin bag with.

Having money because you earned it through hard work is nothing to be ashamed of. If people don't like it, then don't look. The next picture will be of me in my bathtub filled with my own money in US dollars.

- David Gan



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Angry exchanges online

A netizen commented on David Gan's attention-grabbing Instagram photo (above) with two words in Chinese - "tu hao" (a derogatory term referring to the uncouth rich).

Gan launched a tirade against the netizen by calling her a "high-class prostitute".

He wrote: "This is my Instagram account, I post what I like and I don't need your permission or approval. If you don't like what you see, **** off."

The netizen replied: "I don't know why you... attacked me, you chose to show off and you expect people not to attack you?"

Her comment was similar to the criticism Gan received last month for a similar picture.

The celebrity hairstylist also posted pictures of himself holding money and a bag stashed with cash last August and December.

He told The New Paper in English: "People post a lot of pictures that I don't like, but I just ignore them.

"To call me 'tu hao', I hate these words. How am I 'tu' (uncouth)?

"I'm a fashion icon. You tekan (Malay for pick on) me, I'll tekan you back."

Gan added: "There was another comment from someone who asked me to be careful and to hire a bodyguard.

"If everyone in China needs to hire a bodyguard just because they walk around with a bag of cash, then there would be bodyguards everywhere.

"If I get robbed, then I get robbed and that's just my luck."