Businessman worth far more than $12M assets in dispute with supermodel ex-wife

By Nguyen Thao   August 13, 2023 | 04:11 pm PT
Vietnamese-American businessman Nguyen Duc An is still locked in a 15-year tug-of-war with his supermodel ex-wife Pham Thi Ngoc Thuy over some VND288 billion ($12.1 million) in assets.

But in terms of what An is worth, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The list of 39 assets in dispute between An and Thuy includes dozens of stocks, automobiles, apartments and villas in HCMC and the coastal town of Phan Thiet.

But the list does not include a host of resorts, villas, town houses, and land lots the mogul owns across the whole of Vietnam, most of which he acquired after the two split.

An has a bevy of in-development estate properties in the coastal towns of Nha Trang and Vung Tau, the central highland city of Da Lat, and HCMC that are not yet completed.

The majority of this slew of ownings, about 80%, will eventually open "soon" as properties in the accommodation industry and services sector.

Post-divorce, An started building a villa in a pine forest located in the center of Da Lat in 2016. According to his current wife, former model-actress Phan Nhu Thao, the home cost them VND25 billion to complete. The villa includes a garden and manmade stream. Most of the furniture, especially all of its wooden wares, was imported from overseas.

Duc An and his spouse, former model-actress Phan Nhu Thao. Photo from An’s Facebook

Duc An and his spouse, former model-actress Phan Nhu Thao. Photo from An’s Facebook

The couple built another villa nearby shortly after, but this time in a minimalist Scandinavian style. It was made wholly from imported wood and its rooms are separated with glass walls.

It has three floors and is both a cafe and an accommodation. Thao once said it cost them around VND40 billion to complete this property. According to the couple, they own other land plots near Tuyen Lam Lake and Da M’ri town, but have not planned to begin building on them yet.

An and Thao’s wooden villa in Da Lat. Photo courtesy of NgoiSao

An and Thao’s wooden villa in Da Lat. Photo courtesy of NgoiSao

The two also have two properties in Ninh Phuoc fishing village. They completed construction of their 800-meter-square seaside Mediterranean-style villa in 2022.

Then their nearby 4,000-meter-square family resort opened a year later. An’s family is living in an 80-meter-square townhouse in HCMC’s District 1.

They own other apartments in the city as well, all in prime real estate locations. An says he has been investing safely over the past few years, as he wants to establish a financial base for his wife and child.

He is planning to invest in the Australian and New Zealand real estate markets as well, as he and Thao are considering moving to either of those two countries once their daughter reaches university.

"My properties are registered under either Thao or our daughter’s name, or they are entitled for them to inherit," An says. "I’m mentoring Thao in how to do business, so that she can make profits from those properties on her own."

An, 61, was born in the northern town of Ninh Binh. His parents brought him to the U.S. when he was 12, and his childhood was not a wealthy one.

He worked in the fields of construction and real estate investment before settling in Vietnam. It is reported that he had divorced three times before tying the knot with Thao. One of his former spouses is supermodel Ngoc Thuy.

Despite having divorced 15 years ago, An and Thuy are still in dispute over a list of assets worth around VND288 billion, including real estate properties, stocks, and vehicles.

It is reported that as an American nationality holder, An had to "register [Vietnam-based] properties in Thuy’s name," despite the fact that they "were purchased with his own money [and not related to Thuy]."

The Superior Court of California ruled when the two got divorced that Thuy had to return those properties to An, which she had not done.

Thus, An filed a suit against her at the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court in 2010. The HCMC court is set to hear the case on August 18.

It reportedly took 13 years to do so as the court "had to obtain documents related to the properties in dispute."

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