Wednesday, November 11, 2015 8:25 am
Liu Yiqian, a former taxi driver turned billionaire art collector, has confirmed that he bought the painting of a nude woman by Amedeo Modigliani, the second-most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.
Nu Couche, the canvas, sold for 170.4 million U.S. dollars at Christie’s New York on Monday night, depicts a slumbering nude woman in a suggestive pose. “It was the best painting Modigliani ever made. It’s not often that you can say this about an artwork at auction.” Guy Jennings, Christie’s former deputy chairman of Impressionist and modern art in New York told the AFP.
The sale propelled Modigliani into the 100-million-dollar at Auction Club, whose members include Picasso, Bacon, Giacometti, Warhol and Munch.
Bidding by telephone, Liu, who has previously made headlines for purchases of Chinese art, was one of six people competing for Modigliani’s 1917-1918 canvas.
Speaking by phone to the New York Times from Shanghai, the Chinese collector said he planned to bring the work back to the city, where he and his wife have two private museums. Nu Couche will be the most expensive artwork in Liu’s collection.
“Our Museum is just two to three years old and currently houses mostly Chinese traditional culture,” Liu told the Wall Street Journal. “This is a great opportunity for us to collect a world masterpiece and will bring our museum to a new era.”
In 2014, Liu broke the record for the most expensive Chinese artwork sold at auction not once but twice, spending 36.3 million dollars on a porcelain chicken cup in April and 45 billion dollars on a Tibetan tapestry in November.
Liu became rich by investing in stocks, real estate and pharmaceuticals.
He is chairman of Sunline group, a Shanghai-based investment company. As of 2010, the value of his real estate properties was estimated at $1.6billion