Parents lavish gifts for S'porean kids: Bentley, Lotus Elise, $12K bags and $20K watches
Extravagant gifts? Not quite, say two local rich kids who got supercars for their birthdays. They say it's their parents way of showing their love. Then a socialite mum shares why she doesn't believe in spoiling her children
The value of the gifts is irrelevant, says Miss Audrey Tay, who received a customised hot pink Bentley Continental GT from her father on her 18th birthday.
"But rather, knowing that my parents are always thinking of me is what I cherish," adds the Singapore Institute of Management undergrad in an e-mail interview with The New Paper on Sunday.
"I was extremely grateful and happy when my dad bought me the pink Bentley. I saw it as more than just a present, it was also a gesture that my parents trusted me and were giving me more freedom, as I was able to drive myself around once I got my licence.
"My dad got it specially customised in pink as he knows it is my favourite colour. In fact, my whole room is in pink including the walls and carpet."
And the photo of the gift she posted on her Instagram account (@audreytayy) catapulted her to social media fame overnight.
She now has over 9,500 followers online. Miss Tay, 21, says she did not ask for the Bentley or the Porsche 911 Turbo that she got on her 20th birthday last year.
"I didn't have any particular preference but it was a pleasant surprise. My dad is a petrolhead and has his own collection of supercars."
But she did not expect the second car.
Says Miss Tay: "After a couple of years with the Bentley, with the car being a bit on the large side, it can be hard to find parking, more difficult to manage, and not as sporty as I'd like.
"I think the Porsche is a good fit for me as it is small, nimble and most importantly, fast."
"We traded in my Bentley and got a good price on the Porsche so it all worked out for the best in the end."
Miss Tay declines to share the prices of her supercars, but a check with Bentley Singapore indicates that a brand new Bentley Continental GT costs between $850,000 and $900,000.Miss Audrey Tay's 18th birthday present from her dad was a Bentley Continental GT. PHOTO: INSTAGRAM / AUDREY TAY
Other than cars, she has also received presents that include expensive handbags and high-end luxury watches from her parents.
Miss Tay says: "I have some bags from Hermes including the Birkin, Kelly and Lindy, which I think are gorgeous. I have recently started looking into timepieces like the Audemars Piguet which my dad just bought for me."
She adds: "When my dad is not around, I usually ask my mum when I fancy something."
Prices for a Birkin bag start at $12,000, while the starting price for an Audemars Piguet watch is $19,900.
Miss Tay acknowledges that she leads a privileged life but insists that she remains grounded.
"Being the youngest child and the only daughter in the family, my dad pampers me quite a bit. I always accompany my dad at home when he is not travelling for work and do my best to study hard," she says.
"I also contribute to welfare societies and charities to make him proud and give back to the community.
"Through the process of growing up and seeing more of the world and society around me, I am starting to see and understand how important it is to help the ones around us, to contribute positively to society as a useful person, and ultimately devote more time and energy to helping the less fortunate."
She is also aware that some netizens may think that she is showing off on social media, but she is not affected by the negative comments.
"I feel that by having an overall positive vibe and staying true to myself, these haters will not affect me," she says.
"I usually just ignore them. Plus recently I haven't been getting any hate at all."
One surprise gift - plus three rules
A sleek, yellow Lotus Elise sports car was delivered to Mr Atwell Tay on his 29th birthday recently.
A handwritten note of rules from his mother came with the car: "No driving while drinking, no reckless driving, no racing."
Like Miss Audrey Tay, he took to social media to show his luxurious gift on his Instagram account (@find_tay).
Mr Tay, who works in the auto industry, tells The New Paper on Sunday: "I was extremely astonished because previously, my mother wanted me only to get cars like Lexus and BMW, which (she felt) were safer."
He says: "She was away on an urgent business trip - she has never missed my birthday - and I was really upset."
Then came the $220,000 surprise.
Mr Tay, who is also a broker and deals with oil investments, declines to provide more details about his parents, except that his dad is a businessman and his mother works in the finance industry.The three rules Mr Tay's mother gave him, along with the Lotus Elise sports car. PHOTO: INSTAGRAM / ATWELL TAY
The eldest of four children, he is especially close to his mother.
"She dotes on me a lot," he adds.
But extravagant gifts are "not a big deal", says Mr Tay, who is married.
He has three children, but he prefers not to discuss them.
He reveals that he has 24 timepieces from Rolex, Breitling, Hublot, U-Boat and others, most of which are gifts.
"About 10 of them were given to me by my mother and the other 10 from investors," he says.
"One of the most expensive watches I own is a Rolex Cellini priced at about $30,000."
Mr Tay says he loves watches and cars but rarely pampers himself with such expensive items.
"That is also why I am extremely thankful to have received these big gifts from the people around me," he says. "I am filled with gratitude and love."
Diamonds are a girl's best friend
Hong Kong tycoon Joseph Lau has a habit of snapping up expensive gems for his children.
The 64-year-old made headlines when he spent US$77 million (S$109 million) on rare diamonds for his seven-year-old daughter Josephine.
He bought a 12.03-carat Blue Moon diamond for a record US$48.4 million and a 16.08-carat vivid pink diamond for US$28.5 million last week, naming them "The Blue Moon Of Josephine" and "Sweet Josephine" respectively.
Mr Lau, a property developer, had also bought gems for his other daughter Zoe, last November.
He spent US$33 million on a 9.75-carat blue diamond and US$8.4 million on a 10.1-carat ruby and diamond brooch for Zoe.
Socialite: No splurging on kids
She is no stranger to the high life, but socialite Jamie Chua says she does not believe in splurging on her children.
"If I pamper my kids by giving them extravagant gifts at the snap of my finger, they will grow up not learning anything," she tells The New Paper on Sunday.
Ms Chua's daughter, Calista, is 17, and son, Cleveland, is 21.
The 42-year-old socialite (@ec24m) has been profiled often for her multimillion-dollar closets, which include about 200 Hermes Birkin and Kelly bags and double-digit carat diamond accessories.
She says: "I don't want to spoon-feed them and watch them grow up to be overly dependent on their parents. It is not good."
The most expensive present Ms Chua has given her son is a Range Rover, which costs over $270,000.
She also buys him Givenchy and Valentino shoes that cost more than $1,000 a pair. These are footwear brands that he wears regularly.
Ms Chua, who owns a Lamborghini, shares that her son had bugged her to buy him an exotic supercar too. But she rejected his request as she feels he is still too young.
"Sometimes, I let him drive my Lamborghini but only when I am in the car with him. If he speeds, I usually close my eyes and scream very loudly as I hate it when people drive too fast," she says.
"I also allow him to drive my Lambo to the bus stop to pick his friend up, or drive around the estate. That's all. I don't trust him enough to let him drive it out on his own yet."
CHANEL FOR HER DAUGHTER
The entrepreneur, who started her own beauty line, Luminous1 by Jamie Chua, in April, also buys Chanel handbags for her daughter at $6,000 each.
She says: "My daughter has access to my Hermes bags, but she doesn't use them as she finds them too old. We have very different tastes. When she is older, she will inherit my jewellery collection.
"Other than that, I don't lavish them with gifts. In fact, I always nag at them and tell them that they need to work hard to earn their own keep."
She says: "I don't want my children to laze around and think that money can just fall from the sky."
- JOCELYN LEE
What we say
COMMENT BY MAUREEN KOH
Would you buy your teen a car for his or her birthday? No?
What about an iPhone? A Samsung Galaxy Note 5? The latest Star Wars droid that everyone is raving about?
I'm quite certain most of you would say "yes".
It's a slippery slope, isn't it? What is "too much" for a child's present?
A car is a big "no" but a phone is not an issue. A Birkin causes outrage but an iPad is okay?
Truth is, we seem to judge a parent's present using our own yardstick of affordability.
A car is expensive to you and me, but that may not be so for a multi-millionaire.
And to others, an iPad is still an ostentatious present.
At the root of this furore about seemingly extravagant gifts is the notion that we are buying the love of our child.
This mother suspects there is some showing off involved - especially given how social media can sometimes influence our lifestyles and what we share online.
There is also the guilt we feel from not being there for our children. So we are tempted to compensate for our absence with gifts that they can crow about.
Ironically, in today's edition, we also have a story of more people joining the ranks of debtors here because they spend beyond their means.
It could just be that people are egged on by the material possessions they see.
And this is what I fear for my children - if I continue to lavish them with expensive gifts, they might not learn the value of money.
So mums and dads, maybe it's time to hold off a little and ask if you're somehow making up to the child for something with the gift.
Instead, put down that credit card and go hang out with your children instead.
Giving your time and creating memories together could be infinitely more valuable in the long run.