QUIRKY WORLD ... Chinese art lover puts $170m painting on credit card

USA:  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.
QUIRKY WORLD ... Chinese art lover puts $170m painting on credit card

All because he bought a painting.

Liu was the winning bidder for Amedeo Modigliani’s Reclining Nude at a Christie’s auction this month — offering $170.4m (€243.1m) — 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 $36m (€51m) tea cup from the Ming Dynasty on his AmEx last year, according to reports, and put other artefacts on his card this year. He and his wife said they plan on using their American Express card to pay for the Modigliani, according to news reports after the sale.

American Express will not confirm Liu Yiqian’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 ($170m purchase) on an American Express card,” said American Express spokeswoman Elizabeth Crosta.

Liu has an American Express Centurion Card, also known as the AmEx “black card,” an invitation-only card that is given only to AmEx’s biggest spending clients”.

The card has no official credit limit — and it earns points, just like most of the cards non-billionaires carry around.

Each AmEx card issued in each country accrues points differently. But using a baseline of one point per dollar, what American Express uses for its US Platinum and Centurion Cards, Liu will earn 170,400,000 Membership Reward points for his painting purchase, which doesn’t include tax or the fees Christie’s charges.

He has likely earned tens of millions of points for his earlier fine art buys, like the expensive tea cup.

Liu and his wife, in an interview with The New York Times, said they plan to use the points to allow their family to travel for the rest of their lives.

Texted in error

ENGLAND:

A Payment Protection Insurance claims company that sent more than 1.3m spam texts in nine weeks has been fined £80,000 (€114,000) by the UK’s data protection watchdog.

UKMS Money Solutions Limited (UKMS) used mobile phone numbers it had bought from list brokers to encourage people to make a claim, but failed to check recipients had agreed to receive marketing text messages — something it is legally required to do.

A total of 1,442 people complained to the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and the spam text reporting service.

Tear-jerker

IRELAND:

A Christmas advert for a Northern Ireland market town has become an unlikely internet hit.

Almost 23,000 people have viewed the ad for Ballymena in Co Antrim since it went live three days ago.

Made on a shoestring budget, the £5,000 festive tear-jerker features a handmade linen teddy bear which falls from a parcel during delivery.

Ivory tower

ENGLAND:

One of the UK’s largest seizures of ivory has been made at Heathrow.

The ivory, which weighed a total of 110kg and included raw tusks, was found in baggage left abandoned in transit from Angola on its way to Hanover, Germany.

Customs officers found raw tusks and other items, including carved bangles and beads, after searching an item of luggage at Terminal 4 on October 14.

Exorcism backfires

USA:

An appeals court has upheld the stripping of parental rights from a New Jersey couple after the mother took the children to a priest for an exorcism while the father was in prison.

The ruling backs the state’s decision to take the couple’s two children.

Authorities say the children were three years old and two years old when the mother asked a priest to perform an exorcism because she was hearing voices and fighting an urge to give the children to the devil.

The state put the children in foster care because no other family member was available, and the foster mother decided to adopt them. A judge found the mother had done little to treat her hallucinations and the father refused to treat his substance abuse charges.

Mascot on the loose

USA:

A US university’s green-caped Spartan mascot has not been seen in a month, and school officials say they want him back.

The costume, known as Sparty, disappeared from the Student Government Association offices of Castleton University in Vermont between late September and the middle of October.

Student activities director Matthew Patry says Sparty is usually kept in a locker, but had been put in a bag under a desk in the offices after some shelves collapsed.

The Student Government Association bought the mascot for $1,700 last year to replace an earlier one.

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