China Huayi Brothers film mogul Wang Zhongjun buys van Gogh masterpiece for $80m: report

Two staff members pose in a gallery with Still Life, Vase with Daisies, and Poppies by Vincent Van Gogh from 1890 at Sotheby's auction house in London In October. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Two staff members pose in a gallery with Still Life, Vase with Daisies, and Poppies by Vincent Van Gogh from 1890 at Sotheby's auction house in London In October. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - One of China’s richest men has bought a Vincent van Gogh masterpiece for nearly US$62 million (S$80 million), reports said Wednesday, becoming the latest tycoon to make an eyebrow-raising art purchase.

Wang Zhongjun, chairman of the high-powered Huayi Brothers film studio, bought van Gogh’s 1890 painting Still Life, Vase with Daisies and Poppies on Tuesday for US$61.8 million, according to Shanghai-based news site The Paper.US

The painting, which was auctioned by Sotheby’s in New York, had been valued at US$30 to US$50 million, the report said.

A Huayi Brothers representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The purchase makes Wang the latest wealthy Chinese businessman to make a splash on the international art scene.

Last year, tycoon Wang Jianlin’s Wanda Group bought the 1950 Pablo Picasso painting Claude and Palomafor US$28 million, more than double the high estimate of US$12 million.

At the time, the company came under fire for the extravagant purchase, with some Chinese Internet users questioning Wang’s patriotism and the painting’s value.

Wang Zhongjun came under similar criticism on Wednesday.

“One madman buying a painting by another madman,” one user wrote on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

“This is how he spends all the investors’ money? What a waste,” wrote another.