Every 'Bling Empire' Fan Is Dying to Know Just How Anna Shay Came Into So Much Money

Every 'Bling Empire' fan's favorite person on the show was Anna Shay. So, who exactly was she and how did she come into so much wealth?


Jun. 5 2023, Updated 8:49 p.m. ET

Anna Shay tries on a crown in 'Bling Empire'
Source: Netflix

If you're reading this, we probably don't need to tell you that Bling Empire is easily the best unscripted show Netflix has ever released.

The reality series, which premiered its inaugural season on Jan. 15, 2021, introduced unsuspecting fans to the lives of extraordinarily wealthy Los Angeles Asians, who, perhaps surprisingly, proved themselves to be both fascinating and multi-faceted.

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Our absolute favorite person on Bling Empire was none other than the extraordinary Anna Shay, who didn't miss a single opportunity to drop bits of wisdom to the audience or her other friends ("There are consequences to everything in life," she said at one point. At another: "I don't feel this need to compete. I find it fiercely annoying.")

So, who exactly was this aspirational diva? And who were Anna Shay's parents? Keep reading.

Anna Shay and Christine Chiu in 'Bling Empire'
Source: Netflix
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Who are Anna Shay's parents?

We know Anna Shay as the mother of Kenny Kemp. Anna had four joyous marriages and four delightful divorces, as she tells it on the series.

Her son, who we met at the bowling alley where Anna traveled to join her gaggle of younger friends, turned out to have quite a successful enterprise of his own: collecting five-figure glass bongs and rigs.

As the "sole heir to hundreds of millions of dollars," Kenny built his own glass empire. "When you're hanging out in his mother's basement," a 2015 Buzzfeed profile reads, "you can smoke out of a black Glock, a bear shaped like a honey container, or a monkey in a suit smoking a cigarette and holding a banana like a gun."

And where exactly do these hundreds of millions of dollars that he will be inheriting come from, you might ask?

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Well, Anna Shay's parents, Edward Shay and Ai-San Shay, made an absolute fortune from their businesses in exports.

Edward, who hailed from the South Side of Chicago, founded Pacific Architects and Engineers back in 1955, a private defense company whose clients include countries like the U.K. and the U.S.

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Anna's mother, Ai-San, who was Japanese and Russian, passed away in 2015, 20 years after Edward. She came from a family who exported pearls and silk flowers. According to Reality Titbit, the late couple bonded over the fact that they worked in exports and met during World War II.

"My mother said, 'You were born in a crystal ball with a silver spoon,'" Anna told Oprah Magazine. She shared an anecdote from her childhood, back when she had a pet monkey and was afraid her pet wouldn't be allowed to ride in the airplane with her.

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"She had a bottom seat in Pan Am but I wanted her to sit next to me," she revealed. "My dad said, 'Walk in and know who you are, where you come from.' My parents would always say that throughout my life."

Anna's pet monkey was able to sit by her side.

In 2006, the socialite and her brother sold their father's company for a whopping $1.2 billion. Assuming she and her brother went half and half on the split, the legendary Anna was worth upwards of $600 million at the time.

Anna died in 2023 from a stroke.

At age 62, Anna Shay unexpectedly passed away from a stroke. Although the exact date of her death isn't clear, PEOPLE reported her death on June 5, 2023, with an exclusive statement from Anna's family.

“It saddens our hearts to announce that Anna Shay, a loving mother, grandmother, charismatic star, and our brightest ray of sunshine, has passed away at the early age of 62 from a stroke,” her family said in a statement, according to PEOPLE. “Anna taught us many life lessons on how not to take life too seriously and to enjoy the finer things. Her impact on our lives will be forever missed but never forgotten.”

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