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.


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.


Tu Youyou is the first Chinese national to win a Nobel Prize in a scientific field

The 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded on Monday to Drs. William C. Campbell and Satoshi Omura, who jointly share one-half of the award “for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites”, and Tu Youyou (屠呦呦), who won the other half “for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against malaria”.

Tu, chief professor at China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences (formerly known as China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine), is recognized for role in for identifying, extracting, and showing the efficacy of a compound named artemisinin in treating malaria.  Her inspiration for discovering and isolating this compound came from traditional Chinese medicine’s use of sweet wormwood (青蒿素) to treat fevers, which can be indicator of malaria.   Medicines and treatments created from artemisinin have saved millions of lives, and she was previously honored in 2011 for her achievements with the Lasker DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, often called a pre-cursor to a Nobel win.

The Nobel Foundation explains “When used in combination therapy, it is estimated to reduce mortality from Malaria by more than 20% overall and by more than 30% in children.  For Africa alone, this means that more than 100 000 lives are saved each year.”   The World Health Organization estimates that more than 1 billion artemisinin-based treatment courses have been administered and that the Nobel prize for artemisinin is “a tribute to the contribution of the Chinese scientific community in the fight against malaria.”

Born in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province in 1930, Tu graduated from Peking University School of Medicine in 1955 and worked as a researcher at China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  In 1969, during the Cultural Revolution, she joined a secret military program named Project 523 commissioned by Mao Zedong himself two years earlier to find a cure for malaria which afflicted thousands in southern China and Northern Vietnamese Communist soldiers fighting in the mosquito-infested jungles of China’s southern neighbor.

This Chinese billionaire does some crazy stuff just to stay creative

huang nobu


Next Shark/BBC:


Meet Huang Nubo. He is a Chinese billionaire and founder of property and leisure giant Beijing Zhongkun Investment Group. Huang had humble beginnings; he and his family lost everything during China’s Cultural Revolution in the 1970s. His dad was jailed, accused of being a rebel and committed suicide while incarcerated. When Huang grew older, he managed to get a stable job in the PR department of the Communist party. However, he quickly became bored. He wanted to start his own business but had no idea where to start, so he tried many things including “selling dolls, printing name cards, reselling photocopiers [and] reselling steel.

huang cat

“I wanted to challenge my fate.”


He finally found his calling and managed to build a really successful business in real estate. One of the most unique things about his office are animals he likes to keep — his office zoo includes a live shark, several cats, and monkeys, as well as parrots and parakeets.


huang monkeys


He also writes poetry, and his other hobbies have led him to climb Mount Everest — twice. “If a company needs the leader to be there every day after it develops to a certain stage, the company will be unsuccessful.


huang everest


He believes that as an entrepreneur you need to keep your life interesting. “If you are just a businessman and live for money, your life is boring … A man must be useful to society … life must not be about earning lots of money, buying private jets, playing golf, dating women. He needs to keep being creative.”


huang parrot


His vision of his entrepreneurial ventures is something all of us should remember. “I hope to see everything I dream of becoming reality … I hope to build a dream and then realise it. This is the greatest fun.


An Asian American’s View On Why Asians Save And Earn So Much

Dragon over Lake by LoggaWiggler - Public Domain


I was sitting in our weekly marketing team meeting when one of my colleagues touched upon some interesting statistics about the Asian American demographic. She mentioned the Asian American segment has grown by 60% between 2000 and 2013 to a total population of 19 million. Chinese and Indians account for the bulk of the Asian population at 23% and 19%, respectively. The third largest segment is the Filipino population comprising of 17% of the total. As relatively new immigrants, you’d think Asian Americans would earn less and be worth less than the median US household, but you’d be wrong.

A 2010 Pew Research study pegged Asian households earning a median $66,000 a year vs. $49,800 for the average US household, a 32% difference. A 2013 Nielsen Research Report found that Asian American households have a median net worth of $89,300 compared to $68,800 for overall US households, a 30% difference. Meanwhile, roughly 49% of Asian Americans have Bachelor’s degrees vs. 28% of the general US population, a 75% difference.

With language and cultural headwinds, why is the average Asian American doing much better than the general US population? There’s no proof Asians are any smarter or harder working than other races. I quit math after junior year in high school because I hated math and didn’t see the practical use of taking Calculus in day-to-day life. I also like to lounge around as much as anyone.

I can’t speak for all Asian Americans, but I can provide some perspective as a Chinese American who grew up in four different Asian countries for 14 years before coming to America for high school and college. I was born in the Philippines and lived in Japan, Taiwan, and Malaysia. In college I studied abroad in China for six months. In the workplace, I took business trips to India, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, and Indonesia for 13 years in a row from 1999 – 2012. I’ve lived in the States for the past 23 years.



When I was in the 4th grade in Taiwan, a Caucasian kid tripped me on the pitch and proceeded to yell racial slurs after I fell to the ground. He kept on barking obscenities until I swept his legs and stomped on his solar plexus in retaliation. He began to cry and we were both sent to “face the wall” for the entire afternoon recess period.

While we were squishing ants climbing on the brick just inches away from our faces, my assailant surprisingly turned to me and apologized. I was touched and apologized right back. We never fought or played dirty on the pitch again.

The soccer game was between “Chinese” vs. “Americans” while I was attending Taipei American School in the early 80s. I was placed on the Chinese team due to my ethnicity, instead of my nationality. I was too young to understand that I had just experienced my first racial conflict.

When I was a sophomore attending The College Of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, I had another very memorable racial encounter. My girlfriend (who was half-Asian and half-Caucasian) and I were eating some midnight waffles at Denny’s, of all places when a group of massive offensive linemen came barging in. They sat in the booth next to us and told us to “get the f*ck out you ch*nks” or else they’d beat the crap out of us.

By this time, I was already used to racial conflict as a 20 year old Asian American living in Virginia for the past seven years for high school and college. I always spoke up when there was an injustice, but this time I was outnumbered four-to-one. Although I mentally strategized on how to debilitate my oppressors, my girlfriend and I decided to leave as we were just about finished with our food anyway.

I felt ashamed I couldn’t do anything to fight for my girlfriend’s honor. Even now as a 37 year old, it irks me that I do not know their names every time I recall the incident because I want to give them a call ask them if they still have the hate. But what I do remember the week following the incident was that I made myself a promise to be financially independent as soon as possible so I would never have to take abuse from anybody again.


Building wealth starts with savings. There is no such thing as investing, buying a home, purchasing an annuity, or building alternative income streams without savings. Let me share with you six reasons why I think Asian Americans save and earn more than the median. Again, this is just one person’s point of view.

1) Asians are allergic to debt. Taking on debt to purchase a car, a piece of property, or stocks is a relatively new concept for many Asians. We’ve been taught the tenet, “If you can’t pay for something in cash, you can’t afford it.” This tenet runs counter to the heavy consumerism culture in America. If you go to any property developer in China (market is looking a little bubbly), it is common for 80%+ of the units to be purchased with cash compared to less than40% in America. Debt is slavery. Cash is freedom. The US personal savings rate is roughly 4.8% according to the US Bureau Of Economic Analysis compared to 30%+ in places like China and India.

2) Lots of historical uncertainty and upheaval. When you have political instability and war, people tend to save more for their uncertain futures. Over the past 100 years or so, there have been a lot of tragedies in developing Asia. The Cultural Revolution and the Nanjing Massacre are two such tragedies in China. The ongoing heavy hand of the government may be another. The Taiwanese are perpetually afraid the Chinese will invade their country. The Japanese have been aggressively saving since their bubble collapsed in the 1980s due to deflation. The 1997 Asian Investment Crisis destroyed the wealth of millions of Thais, Indonesians, Malaysians, and South Koreans. Meanwhile, America has enjoyed a much more stable path of growth thanks to our Democratic system. Having better expectations of the future gives you more confidence in spending more money.

3) Few Asians in leadership positions. When there are hardly any Asian American politicians or CEOs of large corporations, it’s more difficult to visualize yourself in such positions as a kid. When there’s no examples to aspire to, there’s a tendency not to even bother. There are also very few Asian Americans on TV or in the movies, except for in type-cast roles. People tend to hire and promote other people who look like them and share similar backgrounds. It starts with race, then sex, then socioeconomic background. There’s no wonder why everybody tends to look the same. Take a look around the office and see if you can find the pods of similarities. It’s not like people nowadays are intentionally racist or sexist. People just want to work with people who they trust most. It’s harder to fully trust and understand someone who has a different background. (Related: The Solution To The Gender Wage Gap)

4) Family finances. It’s common to see post-college Asian adults still live at home with their parents. Why pay rent when you can live with the parents and save money for a downpayment, is a common way of thinking. There’s also a traditional aspect of living at home until one gets married, unlike US culture, which encourages independence as soon as possible. If you save $30,000 a year in rent for 8 years until age 30, you will likely be better off financially than average. I’ve discovered living in San Francisco for the past 13 years that parental financial help for their adult children is quite common. I personally could never imagine living back home with my parents after college.

5) Sports is not a realistic way out. Only a tiny percentage of the population ever become professional athletes. But the odds are even starker for Asian Americans in athletics, an area where meritocracy reigns supreme. There are hardly any Asian American basketball, football, or baseball players for example. And these three sports are a part of Americana where the best athletes are revered as heroes. Even for non-contact sports like tennis, there’s only been a handful of Asian athletes who have risen to the top of the ranks. Without the hope of athletics, the only hope left is in the field of academics and the arts.

6) Academics is the main level playing field. If there is one level playing field among all races, it’s in academics. If you study harder, you will likely get better grades. If you get better grades, you’ll likely get into a better university. If you get into a better university, you’ll likely get a better job and make more money. It doesn’t matter if you’re only 5 feet 1 inches tall, you’ve got the same opportunity as someone 6 feet 10 inches tall in academics. Even if you are poor, so long as you have a stable household you can still study as long a someone who is rich. There is nothing more important to the Asian American population than academics. Parents will do absolutely anything to help give their kids a chance to excel in school. From after class tutors every day to Sunday school, I’ve had it all, and so have many of my Asian American friends.


Given Asian Americans account for only ~6% of the US population, many Asian Americans realize that nobody is going to save them – not the government, not their colleagues, not the NBA, not the majority. Even if every single Asian American was brilliant and physically intimidating, we’d still get crushed by everybody else as a minority.

The only people Asian Americans can count on are our immediate family and education. This is why you see such a concentration of Asian minority groups in various urban settings e.g. Chinatown, Koreatown, Japantown. It’s a similar concept to why schools of fish swim together in the great unknown ocean. This is why UC Berkeley’s undergraduate Asian population is roughly 40%, 7X the national Asian American population. Getting a good education and looking after family cannot be overemphasized.

My father explained to me after my fight on the pitch that this sort of racial conflict would keep on happening as I grew older. He was absolutely right. He taught me that in order to stop getting picked on I would have to fight back with my mind because there’s always going to be someone physically bigger and more intimidating than me. And even if I was a hulk with a black-belt in martial arts, a pip-squeak with a gun could end everything in a hurry. With his advice in mind, I started taking school much more seriously.

When I graduated from college and got my first job in NYC I decided to save as much money as I could. After the first year, I maxed out my 401k and saved 20% of my after-tax income. Yes, it sucked sharing a studio with my high school buddy as a 23 year old, but these are the types of sacrifices I had to make in order to save. Getting in at 5:30am and lasting until 7:30pm in order to eat the free cafeteria food wasn’t so bad.

After my third year of work, I was regularly saving 50% of my after-tax income because all I could think about when it was dark coming into work and dark leaving work was how wonderful financial independence would be. There were definitely many times when I was tempted to spend a small fortune partaking in NYC’s amazing nightlife. Even back then in the late 90s, it was difficult to not spend at least $100 going out. But for the most part I kept things frugal.


Asian American Income And Education Rates


After saving 50%+ of my income for 13 years, I had accumulated enough to say goodbye to Corporate America. If I did nothing with my savings, mathematically speaking I would have at least 13 years of living expenses in the bank. But I actively diversified my savings into CDs, real estate, and dividend producing equities in order to produce passive income over the years. It’s important to eventually get money aggressively working for you so you can have more options.

Perhaps it’s easier saving money as a minority in America because there’s so much motivation to get ahead thanks to a tiny safety net. Going through racial conflict and seeing so much poverty in developing countries growing up really gave me a lot of perspective. If we are fortunate enough to live and work in America, most of us have it pretty good. But once we start seeing how the rest of the world lives, we’ll appreciate our situation even better.

In early 2012, I took it upon myself to get a handle on my own finances by signing up with Personal Capital’s Dashboard to track my net worth and manage my cash flow. Nobody is going to care more about my money than me, and I’m sure the same situation applies to you.


7 Essential books that capture the young Asian American experience


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The literary world has been exploding with talk about writers of color. Roxane Gay’s 2012 article “We Are Many. We Are Everywhere.” reignited the conversation surrounding their under-recognized voices, and was followed by an exciting Nation column aiming to improve coverage of these writers. In June, NPR criticized the publishing industry for staying “stubbornly white.” And just this week at the literAsian festival, Asian-Canadian novelist Madeleine Thein bemoaned the under-representation of writers of color in Canadian literary awards.

As a reader of color, I appreciate the attention given to this issue. One of the greatest rewards of reading is seeing yourself — your unarticulated hopes, dreams, and fears — rendered on the page in a way that is at once recognizable and enlightening. Though I loved to read growing up, for years I stayed away from writing by or about Asian Americans  — partly because it was scarce, and partly because I feared I would find just more versions of Disney Mulans, Lucy Lius, and Amy Tans. I was suspicious that a book would turn out to be a literary fortune cookie — something that Americans recognize as Chinese, but that is absolutely foreign to actual people. I didn’t know what I was missing.

Let’s take a moment to thank the books that not only established my faith in the power of Asian American literature, but that also helped me finally see myself in literature as a young Chinese-American. Today, these books point to a robust tradition that is clamoring for new voices.

1. ‘Waiting’ by Ha Jin

Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu.” So starts Waiting, Ha Jin‘s National Book Award-winning novel about love, loyalty, and a changing China under the Cultural Revolution. Lin Kong is a young doctor who waits 18 years for his peasant wife Shuyu to divorce him so that he may marry the love of his life, the educated and fashionable Manna. More than simply a stunning piece of writing, Waiting presents portraits of Chinese people so true that they may incite uncontrollable sobbing. Here are the secret heartbreaks and unfulfilled dreams of parents and grandparents, brutally and beautifully exposed.

Waiting was the first book I ever read by a Chinese-American writer, and it fulfilled an urge I didn’t know I had: to read books about people like myself and my family.

2. ‘A Thousand Years of Good Prayers’ by Yiyun Li

Yiyun Li‘s short stories are marvels. They are sometimes strange and twisted, but always deeply compassionate, illuminating the dark sides of history and the human soul with an almost impossible level of elegance. The stories are about China and Chinese America, but there is no air of exoticism or literary tourism. “Immortality,” a story in A Thousand Years of Good Prayers about the rise and fall of a Mao look-alike, is one of the most astounding stories you will ever read.

A MacArthur fellow, Li was included in he New Yorker‘s list of 20 best writers under 40, and has received various other accolades. She is “the real deal” when it comes to Chinese-American fiction.

3. ‘A Gesture Life’ by Chang-Rae Lee

East Asian men are dealt a shoddy hand in American racial stereotyping; they are portrayed as quiet, passive, and unassertive at best. Doc Hata, the Japanese-American protagonist of A Gesture Lifeseems at first to fit this profile snugly. But Chang-Rae Lee‘s strange, dark story of love, honor, and family makes these qualities feel as heroic and deeply human as the anti-sociability of Dostoyevky’s Underground Man.

Though Lee is better known for his breakout Korean-American novel, Native Speaker,his prose in A Gesture Life is his best, carrying the quiet seeping wonder of Marilynne Robinson or Kazuo Ishiguro. Its accumulative force is staggering.

4. ‘Mona in the Promised Land’ by Gish Jen

Asians can be funny! In fact, Asians can be hilarious. So proves Gish Jen in the laugh-so-hard-your-abs-hurt Mona in the Promised Land. The book centers on Mona, a Chinese-American high schooler who falls in love with a Japanese boy who can barely speak English, decides to convert to Judaism after he flips her (literally and metaphorically), starts to date a Communist “authentic inauthentic Jew,” helps her best friend harbor a homeless pancake flipper in her basement, and so forth. Mona goes beyond being a bizarre and incredibly witty tale. Through humor, it unapologetically presents the sorest and most politically incorrect issues of identity, race, and class.

5. ‘Coming of Age in Mississippi’ by Anne Moody

Now wait. This isn’t a book by an Asian American at all. This is an autobiography of a young African American woman who grows up in Mississippi at the start of the Civil Rights Movement!

That’s right. This book has absolutely nothing to do with me, a Chinese-American woman who has never lived in Mississippi, except for the fact that I picked it up at a garage sale when I was a kid and reread it well over a hundred times during the course of my adolescence. Why was I drawn to this book? And why is it on this list? Because as a young reader, I identified fiercely with stories of slavery and the Civil War as told in African American literature. For whatever reason, Asian American literature was not as abundant or available as these books when I was a child, and so this was what I picked up. Moody’s inspiring story of real-life adversity, though quite foreign to me, was the closest I could get in literature to understanding my own struggles and sense of alienation as a minority living in the United States.

6. ‘The Woman Warrior’ by Maxine Hong Kingston

Chinese-Americans, when you try to understand what things in you are Chinese, how do you separate what is peculiar to childhood, to poverty, insanities, one family, your mother who marked your growing with stories, from what is Chinese?

This sentence embodies the crux of Kingston‘s imaginative, genre-bending memoir of growing up as a Chinese-American. It is also wisdom that, unfortunately, many critics did not take from her work. The reception of The Woman Warrior was wildly positive, but Western audiences assumed that Kingston spoke for all Chinese-Americans, rather than with her own incredibly “peculiar” voice. The result was backlash from writers such as Frank Chinwho criticized Kingston for her inaccurate portrayals of certain myths. But Kingston’s writing is bold, exhilarating, and cannot be pigeonholed into the binary of fact and fiction. If anything, The Woman Warrior is a book that calls for even more deeply individual and strange works of Asian American writing.

7. ‘Dogeaters’ by Jessica Hagedorn

Hagedorn is Filipino, American, and hip. “I don’t care if he’s a little gordito, or pangit, or smells like dead goat. That’s Boomboom Alacran, stupid. He’s cute enough for me.” Here was Junot Diaz’s electric urban language before Junot Diaz had arrived. Finding Dogeaters excited me about the possibilities of the Asian American novel, and the diversity of the Asian American literary voice. It is a novel as much about finding a voice after imperialism as finding a voice after immigration.

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7 Essential books that capture the young Asian American experience