Did a Fashion Magnate Dip Into His Own Businesses’ Profits?

The complex legacy of David Tang

David Tang
Sir David Tang gives a talk on Hong Kong's Future at the Foreign Correspondentsǃ٠Club in Central.
Dickson Lee/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

It takes a very distinctive person to accomplish the task of maintaining a fashion empire while hobnobbing with celebrities and writing regularly about style and etiquette. The late David Tang managed to pull that off, however, and did so with aplomb. At the time of his death in 2017, The New York Times noted that Tang “was reputed to have the best address book in London,” and noted his friendships with the likes of Kate Moss and Russell Crowe.

But living in a larger-than-life manner can also have its downsides. And now, some questions have emerged about Tang’s own finances, and whether — towards the end of his life — he was using company money to pay for personal business.

At Air Mail, Harry Mount pondered Tang’s life in light of a new volume of memoirs by Algy Cluff, for whom Tang worked in the 1980s. In Cluff’s book, titled Off the Cluff, he mentioned that Tang had “a disarming but ultimately destructive obsession to be not only a celebrity but also to be the peer of the grandest in the land.” Among the accounts of Tang’s behavior cited in Cluff’s memoir? Tang tipping a waiter $124,000.

Cluff also contends that Tang “had been plundering the assets of various companies without the knowledge of the shareholders, in order to fund his mythomaniacal life.” It’s a bold declaration, and one that adds another dimension to what we know about Tang’s life and times.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.