36 Million Dollars for a “Chicken Cup”?

November 4, 2014

4864458021 64ea3c4b0a oLiu Yigian, a Chinese billionaire paid $36 million dollars in April 2014 for a rare Ming dynasty porcelain cup that had chickens on it.  What’s even more fascinating is that he put the purchase on his American Express Centurion Card, also known as the “Black Card”, and received a special reward for doing so.

Yigian and his wife, Wang Wei, were avid art collectors, and as of 2012, had used a reported $217 million to amass an impressive art collection.  In April 2014, Yigian took things a step further when he purchased the rare “Chicken Cup” at a Sotheby’s Auction in Hong Kong.  The cup is 500 years old and is one of only seventeen in existence in the world today. Yigian had to use his American Express Centurion Card, informally known as the “Black Card”.  The card is an invitation only card issued by American Express for platinum members who meet certain criteria, such as being extremely wealthy.  Yigian had to use the card because only $50,000 is allowed to be moved out of the country.  He had to sign twenty-four credit card transaction slips since there is a maximum limit on each allowable transaction.  

But what is more interesting is that Yigian, for using the card, received points from American Express on each transaction.  He received 422,860,000 reward points for purchasing the cup.  Yigian also managed to produce some controversy when he decided to drink tea out of the cup, as if paying $36 million for a cup wasn’t enough.

At the time, w
hat kind of things could Yigian have gotten for his purchase of the chicken cup?



James R Moder Maria Theresa Chandelier
Points: 17,387,600  Cost: $86,938.00






VRX iMotion Z 55 Racing Simulator

Points: 12,300,000  Cost: $61,500






Taylor Mobile Generator

Points: 11,799,998  Cost: $58,999



Or if he was in the mood for multiple items to give as gifts:


Points: 1,4000,000 Cost: $7,000


211 Bavarian Electric Touring Bicycles

Points: 2,000,000 Cost: $10,000

Or if he needed to bring a few friends for a night on the town:

264,287 Movie Tickets
Points: 1,600 Each

169,144 Chili’s $25 Gift Certificates
Points: 2,500 Each

Just as an additional note.  The most point heavy item on the reward list at the time of Yigian’s purchase was probably the most boring.  For 158,728,531 points he could have picked up the IBM Tivoli Manager Storage FastBack, whatever the hell that is.  Estimated retail price: $793,607.69.

What would you get with over 422 million points from your credit card?  Better yet, would you care?  If you could get that many points, I bet you wouldn’t be worrying about what cool item you could get with them.

About the author 

Daniel Ganninger - The writer, editor, and chief lackey of Knowledge Stew, the author of the Knowledge Stew line of trivia books, and editor of Fact World and the Knowledge Stew sister site on Medium, our ad-free subscription sites. I hope you learn many new things here that add to your knowledge.

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