Meet Liu Yiqian, a former taxi driver turned billionaire who bought Amedeo Modigliani’s “Nu Couché” for $170.4 million.
It’s a story that Hollywood’s best writers couldn’t pen: a rags-to-riches tale involving a Chinese taxi driver-turned-stock billionaire that has the entire art world buzzing. As a teenager growing up in Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution, Mr. Liu Yiqian sold handbags and drove taxis for a meager living. As reported by the New York Times, Yiqian dropped out of middle school and “rode the wave of China’s economic opening and reform, making a fortune through stock trading in real estate and pharmaceuticals in the 1980s and 1990s.”
On Monday, November 9, Liu Yiqian launched himself into the record books after he purchased Amedeo Modigliani’s “Nu Couché” for a mind-blowing $170,405,000 — the second-highest price ever paid for a work of art. The piece becomes an integral part of Yiqian’s art collection, which is housed and displayed within two private museums owned by him and his wife, Wang Wei.
“We are planning to exhibit it for the museum’s fifth anniversary,” Yiqian said. “It will be an opportunity for Chinese art lovers to see good artworks without having to leave the country, which is one of the main reasons why we founded the museums.”
More information about Christie’s sale was published in last week’s Fine Art Today newsletter, which can be found here.
To learn more, visit the New York Times.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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