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Trickle down, trickle down

People are bothered by the fact that this Chinese billionaire is amassing a fabulous collection and doesn’t seem to care what it costs.

God bless him. If Modigliani can fetch $170 million, perhaps the trickle down effect will set in, and I’ll be able to sell for $17,000…

I hope he loves every object he’s bought. And finds great pleasure in touching and looking at them.

Liu Yiqian drinks from his $36.3 million Meiyintang chicken cup. Photo: courtesy Sotheby's.

The second-most expensive artwork ever sold at auction was purchased at Christie's New York this week by Chinese collector Liu Yiqian and his wife, Wang Wei. The couple is now the proud owner of Nu couché, a $170.4 million Amedeo Modigliani nude.

The Modigliani the biggest purchase the taxi driver-turned billionaire, who Forbes reports is worth $1.38 billion, has ever made at auction, but it's just one of many of his high-profile acquisitions. Liu displays his collection at his Long Museum, which now has two Shanghai locations, and earned a spot on artnet News's top 200 collectors list.

Amedeo Modigliani, Nu couché, 1917–18. Courtesy Christie's New York.

(It's possible that Nu couché isn't the only Modigliani Liu picked up at the November sales: there are rumors that he was also behind the $42.8 million sale of the artist's portrait of Paulette Jourdain at Sotheby's $377 million A. Alfred Taubman sale.)

Not everyone is impressed with Liu's big-spending ways: "These are collectors that have so much money that they acquire taste or they don't have to have to taste because they buy everything in sight" Philip Tinari, director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, told the New York Times. "There's very little discrimination, they just buy the most expensive things. They're not connoisseurs." In April, Bloomberg called him "China's gaudiest billionaire."

Liu Yiqian and his wife Wang Wei receiving the certificate from Christie's for their purchase of a record-priced Tibetan tapestry. Photo: Phillipe Lopez, courtesy AFP.

(Liu's practice of paying for his big ticket items with his American Express card, in order to maximize his reward points, is probably not helping his case.) In order to find out more, artnet News has rounded up a list of some of the formidable collector's biggest buys.

The Meiyintang 'Chicken Cup,' (Ming Dynasty). Photo: courtesy of Sotheby's.

1. Meiyintang "Chicken Cup" (Ming dynasty) One of 2014's most expensive auction trophies, this Chinese porcelain cup set the record for the priciest Chinese work of art ever sold at auction when Liu bought it for $36.3 million at Sotheby's Hong Kong in April 2014. The collector later drank directly from the priceless vessel in an outrageous photo-op.

Ming dynasty, collection of Buddhist Sutras.

Photo: courtesy Sotheby's.

2. Collection of Buddhist sutras (Ming dynasty) The most expensive Chinese painting ever sold outside of China, this 600-year-old album of Buddhist art and calligraphy was snapped up at Sotheby's New York by Liu in March. The sutras were expected to sell for just $150,000, but an intense bidding war drove the price up to an astonishing $14 million.

The 15th century Buddhist tapestry broke the record for a Chinese artwork sold at auction. Photo: Art Market Monitor

3. Embroidered silk Tibetan thangka (15th century) Liu spent a cool $45 million on this 15th century Buddhist tapestry at Christie's Hong Kong this past November. The purchase, which was five times the pre-sale estimate, and broke the Chinese art auction record set earlier in the year by the aforementioned "chicken cup".

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