You wouldn’t have heard about them until last week. And who could blame you? Their faces haven’t been plastered on any society or business magazine cover, and a Google or LinkedIn search will come to nought. But this just goes to show that just because something hasn’t been documented, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Sure, it’s a rarity in the 21st century, but not entirely unheard of.
So, just who are these two people in Singapore who have been suddenly thrust into the limelight?
Meet Vincent Hee, an entrepreneur who works in the education sector, and his wife Jane, a homemaker. The couple purchased a unique three-day experience sold by the World of Diamonds Group for S$2.7 million (or about RM8,061,668). But just before you baulk at the sum spent, you’d be glad to know that the Group will be donating all proceeds to a charity in Nigeria. So, if you think about it, it’s all done for a good cause.
Says Vincent, “I’ve always believed in giving back, but I never wanted to tell people about what I did, until today. I hope that by telling people about what I am doing, I would be able to spread the message about philanthropy.”
The duo is still reeling from the highs of experiencing what many could only dream of. In a span of three days, the couple has been welcomed with 10,000 roses, enjoyed dinner at 1-V:U, spent a night at The Outpost Hotel, cruised around Singapore in a Ferretti 780 yacht, and enjoyed an 18-course dinner in a Bombardier Global 6000, which was prepared by Michelin-starred chef Kirk Westaway of Jaan. To top it off, they checked into the Presidential Suite of Raffles Hotel Singapore for a night.
And as keepsakes, they received two pairs of diamond-encrusted chopsticks, along with the Jane Seymour ring that’s set with a 2.08-carat blue diamond.
If the ring sounds familiar, it’s because in 2016, it was marketed as part of a ‘world’s most expensive dinner’ for US$2 million (S$2.7 million). The owner would also receive 10,000 roses, a helicopter ride around Singapore, a ride in a Rolls-Royce and an 18-course dinner. A year later, it was reported that Ville Oehman of V diamonds purchased the ring, with the aim of issuing a million tokens (sold for US$2 / S$2.74 each) via an ICO.
The plan was to let everyone from all walks of life have a chance to own a diamond, with one of the lucky owners chosen to experience the same package that was offered a year ago. The idea sounded enticing. For just US$2 (S$2.74), you could enjoy what was previously out of reach. Unfortunately, the deal reportedly fell through due to administrative issues.
So, given that the experience by and large hasn’t changed, just what took it so long to be off the market? And where does the difference lie? According to Vincent, it lacked the philanthropy angle.
How did you first hear about this experience, and in particular, the dinner? What made you decide to purchase it?
Vincent Hee (VH): I heard about it through a friend, but I didn’t know the details then. I was then introduced to Karan Tilani, organiser of this dinner. In charity, you always want to ensure that the money goes to the right place. But Karan gave me the assurance. He told me that the money would go to saving 20,000 children in Nigeria. It didn’t take long for me to decide to go ahead with it.
How did you feel before embarking on this experience?
VH: I’m very honoured that Karan chose us because he told us there were many other people who wanted to purchase the dinner. However, he said that there was an affinity between the charity and I, because I’m from the children’s education sector, and money donated is going to a children’s charity in Nigeria.
Tell me more about what you’ve been enjoying so far.
VH: It’s been great. The experience is very unique. I’ve never had an 18-course dinner in my life. We went to The Outpost Hotel, and were welcomed by 10,000 roses that lined the walkway. After checking in, we went for our cruise on the yacht. Karan came with us. It was great, the weather was good, I enjoyed it because we had a chance to view the Marina Bay area from afar. We went to an island, and stopped by for awhile. But we couldn’t stay too long because we had to get to Seletar Airport to board our flight for our dinner.
And how was that like?
VH: The Rolls-Royce was parked right in front of the jet. I had never experienced this before. When you fly, you’re always going to a destination. Never have I ever flown in an airplane, just going around in circles and having my dinner. It’s really unique. The food was delicious.
Out of all the experiences you had, which was your favourite?
VH: Each experience is very unique. I enjoyed them all. Especially the meal in the jet.