AChinese billionaire recently spent a record $45 million to purchase a 600-year-old Tibetan tapestry. Liu Yiqian, a Shanghai-based entrepreneur and art collector, started his career as a taxi driver before making his fortune investing in real estate and pharmaceuticals. Liu has spent 20 years amassing a vast collection of Chinese art, the most recent acquisition obtained after a 22-minute bidding war at a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong. The Ming dynasty embroidery depicts Raktayamari, a Buddhist deity also referred to as the Red Conqueror of Death.
“Before, our country wasn’t very strong or prosperous, so many things were lost to overseas buyers,” Liu told The New York Times after placing his winning bid by telephone. “Now that we have accumulated wealth, we need to deepen our own cultural sophistication. So we are buying Western art, to say nothing of our own art.”
On its website, Christie’s called the silk “thangka” tapestry one of the most important Asian works of art to come to market. The tapestry will be displayed at Liu’s new museum in Shanghai, according to the auction house.