One of Greatest Australian Scandal: How to Marry a Millionaire

One of Greatest Australian Scandal: How to Marry a Millionaire

Rose Lacson, who was hired by Gina Rinehart to help her newly widowed father after her mother Hope Margaret passed away in 1983, went on to marry the boss, Lang Hancock, two years later in 1985. Gina was bitterly opposed to the relationship and did not attend the wedding in Sydney.

Rose Lacson and Langley Hancock

Lang and Rose Hancock at Lang's 82nd birthday in 1991.

Lang and Rose Hancock at Lang’s 82nd birthday in 1991.

The claws-out saga began when Gina Rinehart hired twice-divorced, Filipino-born Rose Lacson as a housekeeper for her father, mining magnate Lang Hancock. To her horror, Hancock married Rose and built her a $7 million love nest, Prix D’Amour, in Perth’s ritzy Mosman Park. Only months after Hancock’s death in 1992, his widow married real estate magnate Willie Porteous. Rinehart and Rose Porteous then engaged in a ten-year legal stoush over the division of Hancock’s estate. In 2012, Rose filed for divorce from Porteous for the second time, but it was never finalised. She now works as a beauty therapist.





Born in Bacolod, Negros occidental Philippines, Rose Lacson is the daughter of Nicolas Lacson and Amparo Lacson. Her grandfather, General Aniceto Lacson, was a prominent military figure in Negros Occidental during the Philippine Revolution while her uncle, Arsenio Lacson, was the first elected mayor of Manila.

Rose earned a B.A. in English literature from Maryknoll College in Quezon City around 1970. She then married a Julian Teodoro (who would later come back to trouble her) in 1971.

Rose then led a “jet-set” lifestyle with a somewhat checkered background including supposedly selling contraband goods in Ermita, and moving to Europe where her experiences ranged from washing laundry in Madrid to strutting down the fashion runway in Milan – all to eke out some sort of a living. Somewhere in there was a second marriage to a Patrick Kuan, with whom she had a daughter, Jhoanna.

After spending time in Hong Kong, Spain, Singapore and Malaysia, Lacson  arrived in Australia in 1983 on a three-month working visa. Lacson began working as a maid for the newly widowed Hancock.

There was also the little matter of experience. Admittedly, Rose had been around the block more times than average for a convent-educated daughter of the Manila middle class. She’d already been an interior decorator, an insurance broker, a black-marketeer and a pantyhose model. She’d even tried her hand at matrimony a couple of times, but the self-assured 32-year-old had never before been a housekeeper. A servant, no less. Hired help.

Still, it was worth considering. She was at something of a loose end. Business prospects were unpromising, her daughter’s boarding-school fees needed to be paid, and Connie, Rose friend, was eager for the companionship of a fellow Filipina. Rose dialled the number and, crazy or not, found herself with the job.

Rose was hired by Gina Rinehart, only daughter of Lang, to help her newly widowed father after her mother Hope Margaret passed away in 1983.

Her first day, 21 April 1983, was “a fiasco”. Her employer had already left for work. Although he was well-off, his Dalkeith house reflected a tight fist. The washing machine was dilapidated and the vacuum cleaner was antique. Come noon, he stomped through the front door for his customary lunch of cold meat with bread and butter, eaten alone in the television room. More than twice Rose’s age, he was gruff and abrupt.

“Good afternoon, sir,” said Rose. “I am here to serve you.”

Langley Frederick George “Lang” Hancock (10 June 1909 – 27 March 1992) was an Australian iron ore magnate from Western Australia who maintained a high profile in the competing spheres of business and politics. Famous initially for discovering the world’s largest iron ore deposit in 1952 and becoming one of the richest men in Australia.

As a young man, Hancock was widely considered charming and charismatic. In 1935 he married 21-year-old Susette Maley, described by his biographer Debi Marshall as “an attractive blonde with laughing eyes”. The couple lived at Mulga Downs for many years, but Maley pined for city life and eventually left Hancock to return to Perth. Their separation was amicable.

During the Second World War, Hancock served in a militia unit and obtained the rank of  sergeant. On 4 August 1947, Hancock married his second wife, Hope Margaret Nicholas, the mother of his only acknowledged child, Gina Rinehart. Lang and Hope remained married for 35 years, until her death in 1983 at the age of 66.

Hancock was crowned “King of the Pilbara” after persuading Rio Tinto to set up a local company that would produce millions of tons of ore a year. With a partner, he cut a deal that provided the two of them—in perpetuity—with royalties of 2.5 percent of the value of each ton exported. Today that brings in $105 million a year.

His discovery has become part of Hancock Prospecting, the world’s fifth-most-significant store of natural resources. And Gina Rinehart is known Down Under as the “Iron Lady.” Minerals have been so much in her bloodstream that once, when asked her definition of beauty, she replied: “An iron mine.”


Langley George Hancock

He took a long, lingering look at the new maid, peering through thick glasses at her denim mini and thin white blouse. “Hello, hello, hello!” he said.

Langley George Hancock was newly widowed. Hope, his wife of 37 years, was less than three weeks dead. His daughter, Gina, was not a naturally warm person. The emperor of the Pilbara had nobody to care for him. The cantankerous old “knockabout bushman” was lonely.

Before long, Rose was finding ways to make the boss feel special – like turning down the collar of his tennis shirt or giving him a stress-relieving massage. The skinflint prospector had met his match. Two years later,the colorful maid, Rose Lacson, 36, went on to marry her boss, Langley  Hancock, 76, on 6  July 1985 in a poolside ceremony at the Sydney mansion of Lang’s millionaire tax advisor.

Rose , who was thirty-nine years younger than her husband, was often accused of gold digging because of their age disparity, as well as being unfaithful and promiscuous. These perceptions were heightened by her habit of flirting with other men. She was known to introduce a number of men as “my future husband” while still married to Hancock. As Rose later stated: “I have been accused of sleeping with every man in Australia … I would have been a very busy woman.” Gina Rinehart, who stood to inherit his entire estate, did not attend the wedding.


Rose Lacson and Lang Hancock: It was a third marriage for each of them.

Although the marriage would later prove tumultuous, early on Lang was clearly infatuated with his young wife. He gave her money and investments in real estate in the Sydney area. Rose, in turn, helped Lang to look and act like a much younger man, belying his eight decades. As The Age put it, “Rose made Lang feel younger, sprucing up his wardrobe, dying his hair and getting rid of his cane”.

In 1990,  together they ordered the construction of “Prix d’Amour”,a lavish 16-block white mansion has sweeping views across the Swan River in the exclusive suburb of Mosman Park, which went on to become a tourist attraction.  . The mansion, which was modelled after Tara, the plantation mansion in the movie Gone with the Wind, was the setting for many large parties at which  Lang and Rose  would “dance into the night”.

The bespectacled businessman would parade his young wife like a trophy, and certainly appeared to have regained his long-gone youth, hosting lavish parties where he would dance into the night.

During their high-profile marriage Rose purchased and destroyed a Bentley in the same day and surprised  Lang  with a life sized mannequin of herself on his 79th birthday.

The alliance, which put the former pantihose model in line to become one of Australia’s richest women, raised eyebrows and caused gossip which persists to this day.

But behind the huge doors of Prix D’Amour, all was not well.

As the marriage wore on, however, the relationship between Lang and Rose began to break down. Rumours surfaced of her having disputes with servants and others close to Lang, especially Rinehart, and as Lang’s health worsened, so did his relationship with Rose. Rinehart would later claim that Lang’s bride had paid little attention to his worsening health, but had instead “screeched at him for money”. Although there were many quarrels, Lang and Rose remained married until his death in 1992.

According to Mr Hancock’s daughter Gina Rinehart, a quietly-spoken woman who has now battled her stepmother for the best part of two decades, her father was being slowly harangued to death.

By early 1992, the 82-year-old Mr Hancock had become frail and unwell, and had been in hospital primarily for heart and kidney complaints. He was on dialysis.

He wanted to go home, and his doctor set up a hospital-like room in the guesthouse on the sprawling Prix D’Amour grounds – the only practical place to put him given the vast and tricky interior of the two-storey mansion.

The guesthouse was also a quiet area away from the main house.

There he was attended by nurses round-the-clock in the days before he died.

He passed away on March 27. With him were his daughter, a nurse and his faithful valet Reg Browne, who had slept on the floor by his side.

But absent from the room was Rose, against whom, the day before, Mr Hancock had taken out a restraining order.

According to Ms Rinehart, her father had said his wife had shown little concern for his health and in fact had screeched at him incessantly for money.

When he died seven years later, Ms Rinehart pushed for a coronial inquest to determine his cause of death – her lawyers argued it was the result of stress places on him by RoseLacson .

During the inquest, starting in 2001 and lasting until 2003, 63 witnesses were initially lined up to testify. While that number eventually dwindled to 24, the objective was the same: to paint the picture that the widow Rose had a hand in hastening Hancock’s death. Some of the witnesses claimed that Rose and the circle of caregivers “stressed” Hancock to death primarily with her tantrums over money; or hastening his death by feeding him only oily foods.

Rinehart reportedly paid witnesses dearly to testify against Rose. A former assistant to Rose says she received $200,000. A most damning witness was Rose’s first husband, Julian Teodoro, whom Rinehart had dug up in the Philippines to tell his story that Rose came back to the islands and tried to enlist his help in knocking off the rich Australian.

Teodoro initially refused to attend the inquest unless Rinehart paid him $250,000, claiming he needed this money for security. There were even tales that Rose used voodoo to ensnare her husband-in-waiting, Mr. Willie Porteous. Like a lot of sensational, salacious cases, the public lapped up the circus for the first few years. However, after dragging out for more than a decade, the novelty wore off, and people lost interest.


Prix de Amour

The speed of her advancement, together with the glaring 39-year age difference, set tongues wagging, making Rose the obvious target of the most unsavory and unkind remarks, even though Hancock’s friends saw the marriage make a happier, rejuvenated person of Lang.

Like all controversial celebrities, especially those who came upon their good fortune quite effortlessly, Rose will have her fair share of detractors and supporters. The Australian press has called her “flamboyant,” “fiery,” “colorful,” “volatile,” with “socialite” probably the kindest description thrown her way.

However, the unkindest cut was delivered by none other than her own daughter to Mr. Kuan, Jhoanna, who, when she was interviewed on Australian national television, said that her mother “… deserved to be called a mail-order bride, a Filipina floozy, and gold-digger,” among other things. The chip off the old block was 21 years old when this interview took place and she earned Aus$30,000 for it. It was Australia’s version of “60 Minutes” after all.



Gina Rinehart and Langley Hancock

Billionaire Gina Rinehart, 61, guards her privacy in her native Australia where she ranks as the richest person, but has also had her share of headline-grabbing family feuds.

She was born on February 9, 1954, the only child of Western Australia mining prospector Lang Hancock and his second wife Hope.

When she was a toddler her father discovered the world’s largest iron ore deposit in the Pilbara region, putting him on the path to becoming Australia’s wealthiest man.

Hancock apparently groomed his daughter to follow in his footsteps, taking her along to business meetings in Australia and abroad.

In the mid-1980s the newly widowed Hancock married Rose Lacson, the Philippine maid that Rinehart had hired to care for him, causing a bitter three-way rift that made headlines.

When he died in 1992 Rinehart took over as chairman of Hancock Prospecting group, which also has interests in the uranium, lead, zinc, gold, diamonds and petroleum sectors.

That same year she launched a series of lawsuits against Lacson, whom she had accused of being a gold-digger who contributed to the death of the man twice her age.

The cases would cost Rinehart millions and drag on for more than a decade.

Rinehart could one day be the richest person on earth. Although current estimates put her personal wealth at $20 billion, it’s expect-ed to balloon to $100 billion in a few years. Rinehart’s fortune derives mostly from iron-ore mines in Western Australia, whose output is likely to soar with rocketing demand from China and India. That could catapult her past Carlos Slim and Bill Gates.

Rinehart is notoriously media-shy. But the twice-married mother of four has begun to flaunt her checkbook, launching a $167 million raid on the Fairfax Group, Australia’s oldest (and most reputable) media conglomerate, where she now owns a 13 percent stake. In 2010 she bought a 10 percent stake in Network Ten, one of Australia’s three major commercial networks.

Two years ago Rinehart  was back in court to face off against three of her four children. The trio, John, Bianca and Hope, is trying to remove their magnate mother from the position of trustee of the multi-million dollar family trust, set up by Hancock for his grandchildren in 1988.

They reportedly won the case in which they accused her of denying them access to a family trust estimated at 1.5 billion dollars and seeking to have her removed as trustee.

As Rinehart once told a group of her father’s friends, “Whatever I do, the House of Hancock comes first. Nothing will stand in the way of that. Nothing.

Rinehart has also courted controversy with her views and statements on poverty, climate change, and the common perception that her only goal is to make money.

“There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire,” she wrote in the Australian Resources and Investment magazine in 2012.

“If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain, do something to make more money yourselves.”

Gina Rinehart

 Gina spurned the wedding. She was bitterly opposed to the relationship and made a point of not attending the wedding in Sydney in 1985 and even opposed Rose’s business visa when she her father first began dating.

It was there, in the guesthouse, that Lang died in 1992.

When the inquest wrapped up in 2003, the coroner found that Lang Hancock died of natural causes, thus exonerating Rose of any criminal activity.

A post mortem report into the death of Langley George Hancock, the pioneer of ore discovery in WA’s Pilbara, showed he had died of natural causes – officially, arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

That year, Rinehart and Lacson ended their 11-year-long legal battle and settled their dispute; after all, only the lawyers were getting rich. Although the settlement terms were confidential, it is rumored that Rinehart paid off her ex-stepmother with some $30 million, in addition to giving Rose the Prix d’Amour estate worth $7.5 million at that time.


Rose and Willie Porteous

Rose and Willie Porteous call it quits after 20 years of marriage.

Rose and Willie Porteous


Just three months  after Hancock’s passing, Rose got hitched again to a man closer to her age, William Porteous, an affable Canadian-born man who had made his name selling prestige real estate in the exclusive areas around Prix D’Amour and also friend of her just-deceased husband.

Despite entering into her fourth marriage, the new Mrs Porteous maintained much of the mansion as it had been, adorned with photographs of Mr Hancock, to keep her late husband’s memory alive.

The then-Mrs Hancock said the  Prix D’ Amour ( The Price of Love) $7 million home was inspired by Gone With The Wind’s Tara. Before its demolition in 2006, the house was listed for sale with a price tag of $30 million.

It is not known, other than to the Australian Department of the Treasury (the IRS down-under) how much Rose is actually worth; but if she was able to settle her legal bills for $13.25 million and bequeath $1 million each to her three poodles later, it would be safe to assume that Mrs. Porteous was worth at least $25-30 million at the time and thus had another $10-15million+ left over after paying off legal bills, etc. In 2006, the fabled Prix d’Amour mansion was demolished and the estate was turned into an exclusive, gated community boasting ten lots with high-priced homes. That turned in a tidy profit for Rose and William Porteous.

William and Rose divorced in 2012.

A former neighbour of the high-flying couple, Graeme Powell, said he was not surprised about the split.



Rose is carving out a beauty career at her home salon. Photo: Peter Rigby, online magazine


Lang Hancock’s headline-grabbing widow Rose Porteous has reinvented herself as a beauty therapist.

The woman who spent ten years in a legal battle over Mr Hancock’s estate with his only child, Gina Rinehart, is now whiling away her days rubbing lotions into the skin of friends and clients.

Mrs Porteous has set up a makeshift salon in a room at her Nedlands home, complete with a light therapy machine and a massage bed shipped in from New York.

“I’m all about helping people to look their best,” Mrs Porteous told online magazine The Starfish.

“And my forte is anti-ageing and melanoma prevention.”

“Very strange marriage in the first place, in more ways than one,” he said.

She also shares the home with and her poodles Denis, Lulu and Snoopy, who have each been left $1 million in her will.

In an interview with Andrew Denton in 2003, Mrs Porteous said she understood poodles better than men and that the money was “to keep them going and accustomed to how they’ve been treated”.

She said she spent between $600 and $800 each week on the dogs, which included paying for a nanny.

She also said she had reconciled with her daughter Johanna Lacson-Fox, from her second marriage, after she apologised for labelling Mrs Porteous a “gold-digger” on national TV.

The family friend tells The Starfish, “We hate seeing Rose referred to as a former housemaid. She was only a housekeeper for three weeks and then she got fired by Gina. She’s actually from a prominent Lacson clan in the Phillipines and a very smart woman, a university graduate of English literature with a minor in philosophy and psychology.”


Rose with happy client, Jacqueline Lang from online magazine, The Starfish.

Rose with happy client, Jacqueline Lang from online magazine, The Starfish. Photo: Peter Rigby,



Rose Porteous and daughter to Mr. Kuan, Jhoanna





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