HONG KONG (AFP) - An ancient Tibetan silk tapestry has set a world record for Chinese art after it was sold to a Shanghai tycoon for US$45 million (S$56 million) at auction in Hong Kong, according to Christie's.
The 600-year-old artwork, called a thangka and embroidered in vivid hues of red and gold, was bought by Liu Yiqian on Wednesday and will be displayed at his new museum in Shanghai, the auction house said.
"I am proud to bring back to China this significant and historic 15th century thangka which will be preserved in the Long museum for years to come," he was quoted as saying in a Christie's press release Thursday.
Hong Kong has emerged as one of the biggest global auction hubs alongside New York and London, fuelled by China's economic boom and demand from Chinese and other Asian collectors.
The sale broke the world record for any Chinese work of art sold by an international auction house.
The piece - which depicts the meditational diety Raktayamari, known as the Red Conqueror of Death, standing stride a buffalo - was created during the Ming dynasty between 1402 and 1424.
It is one of a set of three thangkas from the Jokhang Monastery in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, according to Christie's.
In April, Liu bought a Ming Dynasty wine cup which broke the world auction record for Chinese porcelain in Hong Kong for US$36.05 million.
A taxi driver-turned-financier now aged 50, Liu is one of China's wealthiest men and among the country's new class of super-rich scouring the globe for artwork.
He is worth an estimated US$1.6 billion.