Charge $170M Painting on AmEx, Fly Free Forever

Chinese billionaire collecting serious bonus points
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 23, 2015 10:53 AM CST
Chinese billionaire and art collector Liu Yiqian and his wife, Wang Wei.   (Chinatopix via AP)
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(Newser) – Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian, who doesn't exactly struggle to afford a plane ticket, can now likely fly free, in first class, with his whole family, anywhere in the world, for the rest of his life. All because he bought a painting. Liu was the winning bidder for Amedeo Modigliani's Reclining Nude at a Christie's auction earlier this month—offering $170.4 million—and when the sale closes he'll be putting it on his American Express card. Liu, a high-profile collector of Chinese antiquities and art, has used his AmEx in the past when he's won art auctions. He put a $36 million tea cup from the Ming Dynasty on his AmEx last year, according to reports, and put other artifacts on his card earlier this year. He and his wife said they plan on using their American Express card to pay for the Modigliani, according to reports after the sale.

Liu has an American Express Centurion Card, also known as the AmEx "black card," an invitation-only card given only to AmEx's biggest spenders. The card has no official credit limit. American Express will not confirm Liu's Modigliani purchase, or say if it would be the biggest ever on their cards, citing privacy reasons. But it can be done. "In theory, it's possible to put a ($170 million purchase) on an American Express card," says an AmEx rep. "It is based on our relationship with that individual card member and these decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, based on our knowledge of their spending patterns." That appears to be the case here: In an interview with the New York Times, Liu and his wife said they plan to use the points to allow their family to travel for the rest of their lives.

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