On Monday, Amadeo Modigliani’s “Nu couché” (Reclining Nude), a 1917 painting of a woman sprawled naked on red bedding, fetched $170.4 million at Christie’s. It was the second-highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction, topped only by Picasso’s $180 million “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’)” (The Women of Algiers, 1955). The buyer was one Liu Yiqian, a former taxi driver turned billionaire art collector.
To some, $170.4 million might seem like an abstract number. So, as we did with the Picasso, we thought it might be helpful to put the staggering figure in perspective. We investigated what else this sum of money could buy, from laptops for kids to HIV treatment. Here’s what you could do with a spare $170.4 million lying around, if you decided not to spend it on a painting of a naked lady.
- Provide 4,868,571 children around the world with $35 laptops, via One Laptop Per Child.
- Pay off the student loan debt of 4,868 college graduates. (The average student loan debt in the US reached a record high of about $35,000 in 2015.)
- Almost match the total amount of money raised by kids participating in Trick or Treat for UNICEF in the past 65 years ($175 million).
- Pay for one month’s worth of food stamps for 1,363,200 Americans, with food stamps at an average monthly cost of $125.
- Cover the average lifetime cost of treatment ($379,000) for 449 Americans living with HIV.
- Donate 170.4 million pairs of shoes to people in need via Soles4Souls.
- Pay for 28,400,000 Meals on Wheels (at $6 each) for the housebound elderly.