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Liu Yiqian cup: Billionaire drinks tea from ancient cup and draws criticism

Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian is sparking outrage when he bought an ancient and rare 500-year-old Ming Dynasty wine cup for more than $35 million and drank from the cup. Liu Yiqian was photographed drinking tea from the porcelain cup, the Guardian reports.

Yiqian is a wealthy art collector from Shanghai. He purchased the antique wine cup during an auction at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong in April.

The wine cup is called “chicken cup” because of depiction of chickens on it. The cup is one of only 17 know to exist I the world. Some call it the “holy grail” of Asian art.

The Daily Mail notes that Yiqian's employees call him "the eccentric Mr Liu." He is known for wearing t-shirts to work and growing beards.

The Daily Mail reports, "Liu Yiqian is not only one of the richest people in China, but he is part of a golden generation who made their fortune during China's gradual shift towards capitalism in the 1980s and 90s.

"Born into a working class family in Shanghai, the 51-year-old's break came in his 20s when he first invested in the stock market - a shrewd move which grew into a two million yuan windfall that catapulted him into the billionaire he is today."

But the focus lately has not been on the cup he bought but on photos of Liu Yiqian sipping tea from it.

“You think you can drink it and become immortal?”, said one commentator the Chinese social media site Weibo. “In fact, isn’t it just a way to satisfy your vanity?”

Another opined: "No people who are civilized would treat a cultural treasure like this. No wonder Chinese people are looked down on by other countries’ citizens.”

Not all the social media comments were negative. “I’d be afraid to break the cup,” wrote someone on Twitter. “But kind of see why he did it.”

One Daily Mail reader wrote, "He'll have to make sure he puts it in the the dishwasher after."

Another questions whether Yigian could have found better use for his money :"The cup is beautiful for sure , But is is dead . It has no life , no energy . That 21 million (GBP) could have bought life by funding operations , bought medicine and been a living legacy . His name now is linked to frivolity when it could just as easily been revered . 21 mill goes a Long way in the right hands "

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