A Hong Kong judge appointed an administrator on Monday to protect the multi-billion dollar estate of late Hong Kong tycoon Nina Wang during a likely long court battle between Wang's feng shui master and her family.
Wang, 69, who died in April, was rated Asia's richest woman with a fortune estimated at between $4 billion and $12 billion.
Known for her signature pigtails and nicknamed "little sweetie," Wang won control of her late husband's business empire in 2005 in a court case filled with tales of adultery, kidnapping and murder.
In the latest in a series of complex legal maneuvers, Judge Andrew Cheung told the rival camps on Monday that he had agreed to appoint an independent administrator for Wang's estate.
"The present litigation is unfortunately likely to be protracted," Cheung told the court.
Two main parties are vying for Wang's inheritance, given the existence of two competing wills.
The Chinachem Charitable Foundation, run primarily by Wang's family, lays claim to a 2002 will, while Feng shui enthusiast and businessman Tony Chan claims to be the sole beneficiary of a will drafted last year by Wang as she lay dying of cancer.
The rival camps are expected to clarify their claims on Wang's estate in formal legal statements in coming weeks.
Wang was ranked the 154th richest person in the world by Forbes magazine last year.
In 1990, her husband, Teddy Wang, was abducted and never seen alive again. She stirred controversy by waging a legal war against her father-in-law, Wang Din-shin, to secure her husband's billions even though he hadn't yet been confirmed dead.
Nina Wang won the eight-year probate saga in 2005, securing full control of the estate and of Hong Kong's largest private property developer, the Chinachem group.