A group of wildly wealthy Asian and Asian American socialites in Los Angeles are bringing the drama while showing off their lavish lifestyle on Netflix‘s new reality series Bling Empire.
Dubbed a cross between the 2018 film Crazy Rich Asians and Keeping Up With the Kardashians, the show follows the glamorous lives of Kane Lim, the son of a Singaporean billionaire, and his friends.
‘When I saw Crazy Rich Asians, I thought it was a nice fantasy, but then the first person I met in LA was Kane,’ Kevin Taejin Kreider narrates at the start of the series, which was released on January 15.
Kevin, who was born in Korea but was adopted as a baby by a middle-class family from Philadelphia, explains that Kane and his friends have completely changed his perspective.
‘They have the whole world at their disposal, and I’m just like, “Oh my god, this is real,”‘ he recalls. ‘I’ve never actually met a billionaire in my life until I met Kane.’
But just how real is the wealth shown on screen? And where does it come from? Here, FEMAIL looks into the real lives of the show’s over-the-top stars, and how they rose to the top of one of LA’s most elite crowds.
Crazy rich: Netflix’s new reality show Bling Empire follows a group of wildly wealthy Asian and Asian American socialites in Los Angeles
See it? The show has been dubbed a cross between the 2018 film Crazy Rich Asians and Keeping Up With the Kardashians
Living the high life: Most of the Blind Empire’s stars are either millionaires or billionaires
The 30-year-old heir grew up in Singapore where his family made their money in oil, shipping, tanking, and real estate, but his true passion is for fashion.
Kane’s Instagram page is filled with photos of him modeling designer clothes and accessories, which has helped him earn more than 183,000 followers.
It’s revealed on the show that he has an entire wall of shelves dedicated to showcasing his collection of Christian Louboutins in his living room. His over-the-top shoe collection is reportedly worth more than $365,000.
While he grew up with incredible wealth, he insisted in a 2019 interview with VoyageLA that his father refused to spoil him and would even have him take a public bus to school.
‘He never provided chauffeurs for us or the luxuries in life but just the necessities such as the best education, food, and travel,’ he explained.
Big money: Kane Lim, the son of a Singaporean billionaire, showcases his collection of Christian Louboutins in his living room. His shows are reportedly worth more than $365,000
History: The 30-year-old heir grew up in Singapore where his family made their money in oil, shipping, tanking, and real estate. He moved to Los Angeles nine years ago
When Kane moved to LA from Singapore nine years ago, he was focused on increasing his family’s investments after taking an interest in it as a teen.
He told VoyageLA that he was just 17 years old when he took a ‘small loan’ from his father and started investing. Not only did he pay his dad back in just a few months, but he made his first million by the time he was 20. His net worth is now a reported $20 million.
Kane’s best friend Kevin notes in the show that the fashion-forward heir ‘owns the shopping malls you go into in South East Asia.’ He also dabbles in commercial real estate and philanthropy.
According to Kane, he knows everyone who is anyone in the Asian community in the City of Angels, and for good reason.
‘There’s only so many crazy, rich Asians in Los Angeles,’ he explains on the show. ‘I basically know everyone.’
Stylish: Kane started investing with a ‘small loan’ from his father when he was 17 and made his first million by the time he was 20, but his true passion is fashion
Popular: ‘There’s only so many crazy, rich Asians in Los Angeles,’ Kane says on the show. ‘I basically know everyone’
The show’s matriarch, who is half Japanese and half Russian, is the only daughter of the late billionaire businessman Edward Shay and Japanese-American Ai-San.
The 60-year-old’s father founded Pacific Architects and Engineers (PAE), a defense and government services contractor that worked with the U.S. government and the United Nations.
She and her younger brother Allen sold PAE to Lockheed Martin in an all-cash, $1.2 billion deal in 2006. While she is well-known in LA, the socialite has kept herself out of the public eye.
‘Anna Shay is a really reclusive person,’ Kane explains in the first episode. ‘Sometimes you see a glimpse of her, sometimes you don’t.
Anna’s life is filled with designer clothes, private jets, and lavish getaways as money is no concern for the heiress. With a reported net worth of $600 million, she is by far the richest cast member.
On the premiere, she flies Kelly Mi Li to Paris for her birthday and buys her a ‘friendship ring’ from the luxury jeweler Boucheron
Seriously rich: Anna Shay, 60, is the daughter of the late billionaire businessman Edward Shay and Japanese-American Ai-San
Mega millions: The half Japanese, half Russian heiress is worth an estimated $600 million, but Kane said she can be ‘reclusive’ at times
‘I bet Anna goes to Paris more times in a year than she goes to Silverlake,’ Kelly says during the episode.
The heiress is so rich that she admitted to OprahMag.com that she didn’t know what to do with the payments she received for starring on the Netflix series.
‘It was so confusing when I got the checks. I didn’t know what to do with them,’ she said. ‘I didn’t cash them, then I got in trouble for not cashing them. I have them in a savings account. I’d like to have a party some time. I don’t think the money belongs to me. I think it belongs to the crew that had to put up with me.’
Anna’s 27-year-old son Kenny Kemp also appears on the show. He made a name for himself as a ‘passionate stoner’ in 2015 after giving BuzzFeed a tour of his collection of bongs worth half a million dollars.
The glass pipes were stored in a vault in his mother’s Beverly Hills mansion that was originally designed to be a wine cellar. Last month, Anna listed the sprawling Spanish Revival compound for $16 million.
Wealthy: Anna’s life is filled with designer clothes, private jets, and lavish getaways as money is no concern for her
For real? Anna is so rich that she admitted she had no idea what to do with the checks she received from Netflix for the show, saying she got in trouble for not cashing them
Christine Alexandra Chiu
The 37-year-old, who is a self-described ‘philanthropist, investor, and couture collector,’ was born in Taiwan, but now the heiress lives in ritzy Bel-Air with her family.
Christine has been married to celebrity plastic surgeon Dr. Gabriel Chiu for 14 years, but she isn’t a stay-at-home wife. When the couple said ‘I do’ in 2008, they also opened Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery Inc.
While her husband performs the surgeries, the Pepperdine University grad serves as the medispa’s managing director. The couple is worth a reported $80 million, and they also have royal ties.
Dr. Chiu is a direct descendant of the Song dynasty in China, something she brags about on the show.
‘In China, my husband’s father would be an emperor, and Baby G would be a little prince,’ she explains.
Claim to fame: Christine Alexandra Chiu, 37, is a self-described ‘philanthropist, investor, and couture collector’
Family: Christine has been married to celebrity plastic surgeon Dr. Gabriel Chiu for 14 years. They have a two-year-old son, Gabriel Chiu III, whom she calls ‘Baby G’
Hard to resist: Christine is passionate about buying haute couture, but she once griped about designers loaning the one-of-a-kind pieces to actresses
As one of the few LA residents who is invited to do so, Christine has a passion for attending haute couture fashion shows and buying at least one gown at each event.
‘It’s safe to say that $100,000 is the average price of a dress,’ she told The Hollywood Reporter in 2016, ‘but no one ever asks about price.’
During the interview, she griped about celebrities being loaned the same couture gowns that she purchased to wear on the red carpet, saying: ‘I don’t want the sloppy seconds.’
Christine is also a philanthropist who loves to throw parties. She and her husband collaborated with Prince Charles in opening a health and wellness center in Scotland.
And when the Chius’ son Gabriel Chiu III a.k.a. ‘Baby G’ turned one in 2019, they threw him a party at Cayton Children’s Museum in Santa Monica and donated $1 million to the museum on his behalf.
The birthday bash is featured on the show along with footage from Christine’s Chinese New Year party for which she transformed Rodeo Drive into Chinatown.
Giving back: The wealthy mom spent a whopping $1 million on her son’s first birthday party in 2019. She donated the money to a children’s museum where she threw the bash
Teamwork: Christine and her husband opened Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery Inc. in 2008. While he performs the surgeries, she works as the managing director
The 23-year-old heiress is the show’s youngest cast member as well as a rising fashion blogger and social media influencer.
Jaime is the daughter of Ken Xie, a Beijing-born billionaire who made his fortune in cybersecurity technology in Silicon Valley. He founded the company Fortinet in 2000 and has an estimated net worth of around $4 billion.
The former equestrian grew up riding horses and is friends with Eve Jobs, Steve Jobs’ daughter. On the show, she reveals she lost a luxe barn to Eve, who is also an equestrian.
The Chanel-loving influencer has a reported net worth of $50 million, but most of that is trust fund money.
Baby: Jaime Xie, 23, is the reality show’s youngest cast member. She is the daughter of Ken Xie, a Beijing-born billionaire who made his fortune in cybersecurity technology
Working: The former equestrian is a rising fashion blogger and social media influencer
Inherited wealth: The Chanel-loving influencer has a reported net worth of $50 million, but most of that is trust fund money
While she has a whopping $300,000 Instagram followers, she only makes about $50,000 per year as an influencer, according to The Cinemaholic.
The salary doesn’t even pay for her luxury penthouse apartment, which costs $19,000 per month.
‘I’m not the main character of the series, but the focus of my role is centered around fashion,’ she recently told Harper’s Bazaar Singapore.
‘I thought it’d be a great opportunity to showcase my style and love for fashion, considering how large of a platform Netflix is. When I was approached for the series, I knew I couldn’t turn it down.’
The 32-year-old was raised by her Vietnamese mother and French stepfather in California and is now an international DJ and renowned producer.
Kim started touring around the US and Asia after graduation and has worked with the likes of Steve Aoki, Diplo, and Cardi B. On the show, she is dubbed ‘Asia’s Calvin Harris.’
Big business: Kim Lee, 32, is successful DJ and producer who has toured the US and Asia
Home: Kim was raised by her Vietnamese mother and French stepfather in California
Strike a pose: Kim is also a model and has appeared in a number of publications, including L’Officiel
She’s also a model, appearing in a number of international publications, including GQ Italia and Esquire Singapore.
Kim brings the drama on the show after she and fellow cast member Guy Tong find a penis pump in Anna’s shower while snooping. To add insult to injury, she convinces Guy to toss the sex toy out the window.
‘I think I really did misjudge what I thought of her, that I made a mistake,’ Anna says after the incident. ‘Kim doesn’t belong in my world.’
Kevin Taejin Kreider
The 33-year-old model is the only one on the show who isn’t actually wealthy.
Kevin was adopted from Korea by a German-Irish family when he was three years old and grew up in middle-class Philadelphia.
He moved to Los Angeles to become a model and became best friends with Kane, who introduced him to his pals, who are worth millions at the very least.
Down to earth: Kevin Taejin Kreider, 33, is the only one on the show who isn’t incredibly rich
Memories: Kevin was adopted from Korea by a German-Irish family when he was three years old and grew up in middle-class Philadelphia
Activism: Kevin, who loves flashing his abs, is passionate about changing the perception of Asian men in the US
Kevin has posed for Men’s Health, Peloton, Gillette, among other companies, and he flashes his chiseled abs whenever he can. He’s also an activist who is passionate about changing the perception of Asian men in the US.
Unlike his rich friends, he pays just $1,000 in rent for his room. ‘That’s less than a pair of shoes!’ Jaime tells him.
However, his friendship with some of Los Angeles’ wealthiest residents has come with its fair share of perks.
Not only does he get invitations to some of the most exclusive and lavish parties in the city, but he also receives expensive gifts from his wealthy friends, including a pair of Dior sneakers that Anna purchased for him as a token of her affection.
Kelly Mi Li
The 35-year-old was born in Kunming, China, but moved to Chicago when her doctor mother got a job at the University of Illinois.
She was raised by her mother after her father was forced to return to China because he was unable to find work in the US.
The drama in Kelly’s life began long before she signed up to do the show. In her 20s, she was married to a Chinese man and lived a life of luxury with four houses and seven cars.
‘We lived in a privileged, outrageous lifestyle,’ she explains on the show’s premiere. ‘I think at the time we were spending, like, 400k a month on our black [American Express card].’
Childhood: Kelly Mi Li, 35, was born in Kunming, China, but was raised by her doctor mother in Chicago
Devastating: Kelly life fell apart when her now ex-husband was arrested for ‘running one of the largest cyber scams in American history’
Moving on: The TV producer has since rebuilt her life and wealth as an entrepreneur, which has helped her ‘take power back’
Her world came crashing down around her when he was arrested for a crime she had no idea he had committed.
‘I didn’t know it at the time, but he was running one of the largest cyber scams in American history,’ she says on the show. ‘All of our assets were frozen, and we gave the government, I think it was, like, $168 million. Yeah. I didn’t even know who I was sleeping next to.’
She has since rebuilt her life and wealth as an entrepreneur, which has helped her ‘take power back.’ She has produced TV shows and movies while in Los Angeles and is also a rising influencer with 100,000 Instagram followers.
Kelly has found love with actor Andrew Gray, who also appears on the show.
The denim empire heiress grew up in Los Angeles with ‘hardcore Chinese values.’
Cherie was once signed with Sony Music Japan and was on her way to becoming a pop star, but she gave up her dreams because of her mother’s disapproval.
Despite her strict upbringing, she broke traditional Chinese norms by starting a family with her boyfriend Jessey Lee without being married.
Strict upbringing: Cherie Chan, a denim empire heiress, grew up in Los Angeles with ‘hardcore Chinese values.’
Modern family: She broke traditional Chinese norms by starting a family with her boyfriend Jessey Lee without being married. The couple has an estimated net worth of $200 million
Letting go: Cherie was once signed with Sony Music Japan and was on her way to becoming a pop star, but she gave up her dreams because of her mother’s disapproval
Jessey is being groomed to run his family’s furniture empire and together they have an estimated net worth of $200 million.
The Chinese-American couple welcomed their daughter, Jadore, in 2017, while their son, Jevon, was born in 2019.
Cherie’s pregnancy and postpartum struggles are chronicled on the show.
The 39-year-old celebrity hairstylist found fame in Los Angeles long before he ever appeared on Bling Empire.
Guy, who has worked with Mariah Carey, has more than 2.5 million subscribers to his YouTube channel and calls his viewers his ‘hair besties.’
He also boasts 2.1 million followers on his Instagram page, which is a mix of his hair coloring techniques, footage from his music videos, and personal photos.
Hair guru: Guy Tang, 39, is a celebrity hairstylist and YouTube star with more than 2.25 million subscribers
Singer: The hairstylist is also an aspiring musician. He released his debut album in January 2020 and his follow-up this October
Popular posts: Guy’s Instagram page is a mix of his hair coloring techniques, footage from his music videos, and personal photos
Guy is known for his intricate rainbow highlights, which can take upwards of 12 hours to create and cost over $1,000, according to Racked.
He is also an aspiring musician, and he released his EP Multi Perspective in October. The EP was a follow-up to his debut album #More2Me, which dropped in January 2020.
While Guy doesn’t have as much screen time as some of his co-stars, he plays an important role in the penis-pump fight between Kim and Anna.
He and Kim discover the sex toy in Anna’s shower, but he seems to be more concerned about her hair products.
‘My curiosity is: What shampoo is she using in her shower? Because her hair’s a mess and if she’s not using the right product, maybe that’s the problem with her,’ he says in his testimonial.