Chris Ong was born in George Town, Penang and attended St. Xavier’s Institution. His Straits Chinese family’s association with the city stretches back six generations. At 18, he entered Melbourne University and upon graduation went into the investment banking in Australia. It was a profession he pursued successfully for 20 years and in that time he bought and restored houses in Fitzroy and Carlton, filling them with Peranakan furniture and artefacts bought at auction in Richmond salesrooms.
He acquired a considerable number of beautiful objects, and attributes his good fortune to the fact that many Malaysian Chinese had moved to Australia following the race riots in 1969 and more followed after 1975, spooked by the fall of South Vietnam and the advance of the communist regime. In the course of time, they disposed of exquisite items. Ong acquires vast knowledge of Peranakan antique furniture and porcelain as he scoured the salesrooms in the city.