A Chinese taxi driver-turned-billionaire just bought a $170 Million painting

chineseartNext Shark:

A former Chinese cab driver who hustled his way to becoming a billionaire just set the world record for the second highest price ever paid for a work of art an auction with the purchase of a $170.4 million painting.

The painting, Amedeo Modigliani’s “Nu Couché”, or “Reclining Nude”, was sold on Monday at Christie’s in Manhattan to Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian who bid for the painting over the phone. “Reclining Nude” is now the second highest price ever paid for a work of art at an auction behind Pablo Picasso’s “Women of Algiers (Version O)”, which sold for $179.5 million at Christie’s last May.

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Yiqian, 52, was a middle school dropout who struggled to survive during China’s Cultural Revolution by selling handbags on the street before becoming a cab driver. In the 1980s and 1990s, he made a fortune off investing in stocks for real estate and pharmaceuticals. Now worth $1.4 billion, Yiqian is an art collector and the owner, along with his wife, of two art museums in Shanghai where they are known to be flashy art collectors.

Yiqian plans to bring the pricey painting to display in one of his museums so that Chinese people don’t have to travel across the world just to see it.

The eccentric art collector made headlines last year when bought the famous Ming DynastyChicken Cup,” a finely crafted teacup with a rooster drawn on it, for $36.3 million. Yiqian paid for the cup by using his black American Express Centurion card and swiping it 24 times. Yiqian later posted a picture of himself sipping tea from the antique cup.

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Yayoi Kusama becomes the most expensive living female artist with the $7.1 million sale of ‘White 28′

Raking in an earth shattering $853 million in profits, Christie’s Post War and Contemporary Evening on Wednesday smashed its May auction’s $745 million profit record, selling 75 of 80 listed works.

Proof she’s still killing the game at 85, Japanese installation artist and painter Yayoi Kusama set a record of her own, becoming the most expensive living female artist of all time with the $7.1 million sale of ‘White 28′ from her iconic 1960 ‘Infinity Nets’ series. The Louis Vuitton collaborator topped a record set three years earlier with the $6.6 million sale of Cady Noland’s ‘Oozewald’.

The New York auction also saw the $26 million sale of Jeff Koons‘ ‘Balloon Monkey (Orange)’ and two pieces by Andy Warhol –’Triple Elvis [Ferus Type]‘ and ‘Four Marlons’ for a dizzying $150 million.