As the famous Cabaret ditty so aptly put it, “Money makes the world go round,” and this week’s news cycle was indeed all about the moolah. Diamonds, expensive works of art, and a preponderance of billionaires dominated the headlines, so let’s take a look back at the lifestyles of the rich and, erm, very rich.
A portrait of a nude woman by Amedeo Modigliani sold for $170.4 million this week, making it the second-most expensive painting ever purchased at auction. (Pablo Picasso’s “Women of Algiers (Version O)” set the all-time record in May of this year when it sold for $179.4 million). Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian was later revealed to be the new owner of “Nu Couché,” which he reportedly purchased with an American Express card. “This work is relatively nice compared to [Modigliani’s] other nude paintings,” Liu said of his new purchase. $170 million seems like a lot to shell out for a “relatively nice” painting of a naked lady, but hey, that’s how the billionaires roll.
A group of Bollywood stars and Indian businesspeople is suing the Queen of England for the return of the “Koh-i-Noor” diamond, which is worth £100m ($150m). The 105-carat stone was given to Queen Victoria by the last ruler of the Sikhs, Duleep Singh, after the British annexation of the Punjab. The group demanding the diamond’s repatriation claims that the gem is “one of the many artifacts taken from India under dubious circumstances” and “should undoubtedly be returned.” The British government has thus far refused all claims, in accordance with its time-honored tradition of hanging doggedly onto foreign treasures.
Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau purchased a blue diamond worth $48.4 million for his 7-year-old daughter Josephine. Lau bought “Blue Moon” (which he promptly renamed as “Blue Moon of Josephine”) at an auction in Geneva. Just a day before, he purchased a rare 16.08-carat pink diamond for $28.5m, and changed its name to “Sweet Josephine.” If you’re starting to feel really bad about that Gap sweatshirt you got for your seventh birthday, you’re not alone.
Vladimir Putin’s media shy daughter may be able to claim membership to the billionaire’s club. A recent piece in The Guardian posits that Katerina Tikhonova is married to the son of one of Putin’s longtime friends, and that the couple boasts corporate holdings of about $2 billion. Tikhonova, who has never publicly acknowledged her relationship to Russia’s president, is said to be a prominent academic at the mechanics and mathematics faculty of Moscow State University. She also competes as an “acrobatic rock n’ roll” dancer, proving that no one—not even the daughters of Eastern European autocrats—can resist a little boogie woogie.