After paying HK$280 million (US$36.13 million) for it, Shanghai tycoon Liu Yiqian did what any self-respecting tea drinker would do with a tea cup — he drank the brew from it.
It was no less than Pu’er tea, a fermented dark tea reputed to have magical qualities, which would do justice to the tiny vessel acquired by Liu in April at a Sotheby’s auction, Apple Daily reported Monday.
He drank from the uncleaned cup as he collected it from the auction house, saying he wanted to savor the experience of kings and concubines who used it more than 600 years ago.
Liu took the white porcelain cup to Shanghai and is reportedly keeping it in a bonded warehouse for arts and crafts to avoid import tariffs of up to HK$60 million.
Shanghai’s bonded zone allows owners of art pieces to “borrow” them up to six months at a time before renewing the custodial contract.
Liu, 51, has no plans to sell the cup, a white porcelain vessel decorated with a painting of a rooster and a hen tending to their chicks, saying it’s every collector’s dream come true, and is pushing back against claims he bought it as part of a sophisticated scheme to launder money.
The taxi-driver-turned-financier describes himself as “insanely rich with bad taste”, with no knowledge of art but who owns museums.
He paid for the cup with 24 swipes of his American Express card for which he got 422 million bonus points, according to the report.
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