Liu Yiqian, the taxi driver turned billionaire who bought art worth millions using his American Express card is set to sell $150 million worth of art pieces at Sotheby’s this fall.


Chinese art collector Liu Yiqian has made museums with the pieces he and his wife, Wang Wei, amassed. But it is the tale of his incredible life that deserves to be in museums or at least turned into a book. The billionaire founder of China’s Long Museum went from selling handbags on the streets of Shanghai to buying multi-million art by swiping his Amex card. It has now been stated the Chinese collector couple plans to sell off an estimated $150 million worth of art this fall. Their collection features sought-after works like paintings by Modigliani (he purchased Modigliani’s $170 million Reclining Nude on his Centurion card) and Kusama, along with a rare $36 million porcelain chicken cup from the Ming Dynasty.


The art enthusiasts are now turning the tables and coming on the other side as significant sellers. They aim to sell 50 to 60 works. The power couple put illustrious auction houses like Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips to work. The auction houses pitched for a set of Western modern, postwar, and contemporary art valued at a cool $150 million. Sotheby’s won the bid and stated this collection would include artwork of celebrated artists like Amadeo Modigliani, Zao Wou-ki, Kazuo Shirago, Leonard Foujita, René Magritte, David Hockney, Matthew Wong, Dana Schutz, Nicolas Party, Georgette Chen, and Yayoi Kusama.

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Liu Yiqian is one of the most prominent art collectors of China.

“Sotheby’s is honored to be bringing to its Hong Kong sale rooms a truly outstanding group of works from the legendary collection of Liu Yiqian and Wang Wei—two of the greatest collectors of our time,” said Nicholas Chow, Sotheby’s chairman, in a statement. “Though the works to be offered represent just a tiny fraction of the couple’s vast collection, the scope of the offering, which spans everything from works by the greatest names in art history to newer pieces by today’s rising stars, is fully reflective of the expansive and enlightened approach that has always underpinned Liu and Wang’s collecting journey.”

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One of the galleries in Long Musuem, Shanghai.

Former taxi driver Liu built his fortune by investing at the right time and the right place- the stock market. China’s booming economy changed life 360 degrees in the 1990s for the man of modest means who became the billionaire chairman of Sunline Group, a Shanghai-based investment company.

One of the renowned purchases by Liu Yiqian using his American Express Centurion card was this $36 million antique cup.

In addition to avidly amassing an impressive art collection, Yiqian gathered a record-breaking 178.7 million travel miles with just three purchases on his Amex card. Even billionaires enjoy free perks, especially when they can travel first class for their entire lives based solely on reward points.

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With over 15 years of experience in luxury journalism, Neha Tandon Sharma is a notable senior writer at Luxurylaunches. Her expertise spans luxury yachts, high-end fashion, and celebrity culture. Beyond writing, her passion for fantasy series is evident. Beginning with articles on women-centric gadgets, she's now a leading voice in luxury, with a fondness for opulent superyachts. To date, her portfolio boasts more than 2 million words, often penned alongside a cappuccino.