Recently, the Modigliani painting entitled “Nu Couché” was bought by Liu Yiqian, a billionaire Chinese industrialist, investor and art collector, for $170.4 million dollars.
As this is the second highest price paid for art, ever, The New York Times Art section decided to run an absolutely delightful profile of Mr. Liu in today’s paper. There are many gems from both Mr. Liu and his wife, Wang Wei, in the piece (bold, mine):
- “As soon as I heard that it went to an Asian buyer, I knew it was him,” said Wang Wei, Mr. Liu’s wife, who was in Hong Kong at the time.” – True love.
- He added, “The message to the West is clear: We have bought their buildings, we have bought their companies, and now we are going to buy their art.” – Can’t stop. Won’t stop.
- “All of our friends were buying private planes, and he said he wanted to buy a plane, too,” she said. “I refused. I said let’s just put in some more money and start a museum. It will be good for Shanghai, and it will be good for the country.” – Happy wife, happy life.
- “I am definitely a tuhao,” Mr. Liu said defiantly. “But at least this tuhao is bringing a masterpiece back to China for the Chinese people to enjoy.” – Tuhao is a “popular Chinese term for crass nouveaux riches.”
Mr. Liu, obviously, gives zero fucks. (Yes, this is the picture in the profile.)
The best part of the article, however, was the fact that he used his American Express card to pay for the painting. As his wife confirmed, “That way, with the cardholder’s points they accrue, their whole family — the couple, their four children and two grandchildren — can continue flying for free.”
170 million American Express Membership Rewards points, if transferred to Air Canada’s Aeroplan loyalty program, are equivalent to almost 1100 business-class flights between the US and China.
Or, if he transferred those points to British Airways, he could fly first-class from Beijing to Hong Kong 5,666.66 (repeating, of course) times.
For all these reasons, Liu Yiqian is my nominee for the 2015 Points Hero of the Year.
P.S. I am unaware of any competition.