Liu Yiqian, a former taxi driver turned billionaire, bought a Modigliani painting for $170.4 million at a Christie’s auction in New York. The painting entitled “Nu Couché” is the second-highest price paid for a painting after Picasso’s “Women of Algiers.”
Liu, who made his fortune in finance after starting out selling handbags and driving a taxi, started gaining attention for his art investments in 2009 when he began buying Chinese art. He famously attracted the ire of netizens after sipping tea from a Ming Dynasty cup he acquired in an auction for $36 million using his American Express card. The Modigliani painting is Liu’s first foray into non-Chinese art and he intends to display the piece at the Long Museum that he and his wife own.
“Modigliani’s works already have a pretty established value on the market,” Liu told The New York Times. “This work is relatively nice compared to his other nude paintings. And his nude paintings have been collected by some of the world’s top museums.”
According to reports, the domestic and international art market from 2004 to 2016 has been dominated by just 16 art-hungry Chinese billionaires such as Wanda’s Chairman who bought a Picasso for $28.2 million and Wang Zhongjun who bought a Van Gogh for $62 million followed by a $29.9 million Picasso. In fact, buying art is so popular that you can even do it in Taobao!
Of course, all these art purchases must be very confusing for the offspring of these billionaires who obviously see greater benefit in buying gold Apple watches for their dogs.
By Hasanali Pirbai
[Images via Christies/Art Intern]