Receivers have taken control of a company owned by real estate "king" and multimillionaire Don Ha.

Timothy Davies and David Ruscoe of Grant Thornton have been appointed receivers for Don Ha Real Estate Ltd and taken over all the firm's properties and assets.

It is a blow to Mr Ha, who has become as well known for his love of horseracing as his real estate business and public speaking.

His fortune was estimated at $60 million by the National Business Review in 2007.

Mr Ha has won many real estate industry awards and the Weekend Herald understands his firm was named Ray White's Office of the Year on Wednesday last week.

However, on the company's website yesterday, the list of award winners had "Award withdrawn" under that category.

Duong Hai Ha came to New Zealand as a 9-year-old in 1980 when he and his family were Vietnamese refugees, and his subsequent rise to wealth has been hailed as the classic rags-to-riches tale.

His first business venture came in 1983 when - aged just 12 - he sold watercress to a supermarket, and soon after was selling shoes and belts imported from Asia.

Mr Ha became an Amway salesman following an ill-fated nightclub venture at 19, but soon found his niche when he sold 86 houses in his first year in real estate in 1994.

As his wealth increased, so too did his love for horses, and he developed a 14ha thoroughbred property near Pukekohe.

In 2007, he bought a Zabeel colt for a record $2 million at the NZ Bloodstock Yearling Sales at Karaka.

Mr Ha started a business-coaching enterprise called the Don Ha Academy, which charged people $399 to attend a "Key to Wealth Seminar" at Auckland's Langham Hotel last year.

A profile on one of his websites said his story had motivated "countless" New Zealanders with its simple message, "If I can do it, anyone can".

"I've seen people cry. I've seen people jump and hug me on stage. I'm just overwhelmed by the response to my message when I talk at other events," he said in an interview with the Herald last year.

In 2008, contractors went to a debt collector to try to get money owed to them from one of Mr Ha's companies, DH Homes. He is listed at the Companies Office as director of 13 other firms and shareholder of one.

The full extent of his firm's financial problems will not be known until 20 May when the first receiver's report is due. A six-monthly report is due on 8 November.

Mr Ha could not be contacted late last night for comment.