Money can't buy you love, but among China's new super-rich, it can certainly help narrow the field in the quest for affection. China's booming economy has produced 130 dollar billionaires, but it seems at least 21 men in that elite number are lonely, and find it hard to meet members of the opposite sex.
Forced to focus on building wealth during the early part of their careers, many billionaires in China simply haven't had the time to follow the advice of their parents in who to marry.
Enter an enterprising dating organisation, Golden Bachelor, which has organised the Chinese capital's most expensive party ever – a match-making ball with tickets costing 100,000 yuan (£9,000) a head.
Attending the lavish affair at Beijing Jun Wang Fu, a luxury hotel near Chaoyang Park known for its Qing Dynasty-style décor, was a privileged group of 21 single billionaire men and 22 single women.
The 22 women were chosen for the occasion in three different ways. Some were registered with the Golden Bachelor website, while others won a beauty pageant sponsored by the group. The remainder were scouted by Golden Bachelor employees, known as "love hunters". The latter two categories did not have to pay for their tickets.
As dating events go, however, the agenda was a little unusual. Chit-chat was displaced by a "wedding dress show", in which the bachelorettes paraded in gowns for their moneyed counterparts. They also took part in a talent show, singing, dancing and cooking for their prospective partners.
But if any of the attendees were disturbed by the old-fashioned gender roles, they hid it well. Dai, a 22-year-old attending an arts university in Nanjing, told the China Daily newspaper: "Every girl has the right to pursue happiness. I just want to avoid the problems I may be forced to face before falling in love. I came to this party in Beijing for free. I do feel precious about this chance to meet many successful and mature men."
One of the bachelors, Mr Zhang, a 40-year-old who owns a financial software firm in Shanghai, said the price tag was well worth it if it meant he met his true love. "When we are branded as billionaires or powerful men, we are forced to stay in very high societal positions, which makes it difficult to find true love," he told local media.
The average wealth among China's richest 1,000 people grew by 30 per cent to £350m in the past 12 months, which is even more than in the boom year of 2007. The gap between rich and poor in this still- developing country is immense.
Xiao Pu, marketing manager of the Golden Bachelor group, said it was the first time the company had staged this event in Beijing. Half of the bachelors who attended the party were from Beijing while others came from different provinces, including Guangdong. She said four out of five bachelors who attended the party found a date. The majority of the bachelors worked in financial services and drove Porsches and Ferraris. Many of the women were graduates of art school.
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