A Chinese company agreed to buy a Michelangelo painting for $75 million

A Chinese company known for recycling bricks and concrete has made a detour into fine art, offering up a securitised version of a 16th-century Michelangelo painting depicting the crucifixion of Christ. Nasdaq-listed Yulong Eco-Materials agreed this week to buy the work “Crucifixion” by the Italian master for $75 million… To pay for it, the group will sell 7.5 million in shares at $10 a piece, in effect securitising the masterpiece. Until recently Yulong described itself as a waste hauler and vendor of eco-friendly building products operating in China. Its abrupt pivot comes just months after it said it had bought a sapphire for $50 million, paying for it with a similar share sale. The company now describes its main line of work as acquiring fine art, organising exhibitions and opening up an opportunity to own a piece of the masterpieces “to anyone with a brokerage account”… Chinese investors have become important players in the global art market. In recent years Asia has hosted several record-breaking art auctions, such as the $170 million sale of Amedeo Modigliani’s oil portrait “Nu couché” (“Reclining Nude”) to Chinese tycoon Liu Yiqian in 2015. Mr Liu famously paid for the work with his American Express card.

Don Weinland