4 Biggest Amex Purchases Ever

What’s the biggest thing you’ve put on your credit card? Maybe you bought a pair of shoes that you’d been eyeing for weeks. Maybe you covered a part of your wedding expenses or bought groceries when you were in between jobs. Maybe, as Nick Pappas has written about, you went to one of the best American Express casinos and placed a massive bet, as some allow deposits of over $1000. Maybe you buy crypto tokens like Bitcoin and Solana. Whatever it was, there’s a chance that you’ve seen some interesting things on your credit card balance. 

But then there are the people who really took things to another level and bought things that are the value of entire homes or more on their card. American Express, or Amex as it’s commonly called, has been in existence since the 1950s and has many different cards in its roster. 

There are the more basic ones that the average person with a not-too-terrible credit score can get their hands on and the more exclusive ones. These require a certain income and in many cases, you have to be invited to even apply for it. On top of this, they typically come with attractive points programs and perks that those on our list have been happy to take advantage of. From the curious to the bizarre, there are 4 biggest Amex purchases ever: 

1) $170 Million Painting 

In 2015, Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian Liu won a bidding war for Amedeo Modigliani’s Reclining Nude painting at a Christie’s auction. The painting came at the hefty cost of $170 million, which Liu put on his Amex Black Card.

The Black Card is a no-limit credit card given by Amex to ultra-high-net-worth individuals, which is why it didn’t decline when a $170 million purchase was put on it. Not only is Liu now the proud owner of the painting but he also racked up a lot of points from his hefty purchase. 

Amex Black gives 1.5 points per dollar spent on purchases over $5,000 so he earned quite a lot of points, on top of  $2.6 million in redemption value toward travel. He’s since said that he would use the rewards to travel free for the rest of his life.

2) $52 Million Jet

If you’ve never bought a private jet (which applies to a majority of us), it’s hard to picture what the process is like. Does your bank wire a bunch of money to the jet manufacturer? Do you dramatically hand over a suitcase of cold hard cash? 

If you’re tech millionaire Victor Shvetsky, you allegedly put the purchase on your American Express Centurion, also known as the Amex black card. According to reports, Shvetsky made a purchase of a $52 million private jet in the 2010s and paid for it with his Amex card.

This specific card, as we’ve said, has no spending limit and is invitation-only. Unlike Liu, Svetsky has not spoken publicly about his purchase, though we imagine he earned some enviable perks for using it as well.

3) $36 Million Cup

Another entry on our list from billionaire Liu Yiqian Liu. In 2014, Liu purchased a 500-year-old porcelain cup from the Ming Dynasty. Only 3 inches wide and decorated with images of chickens, less than 20 are still in existence and Liu reportedly bought the one in the best condition. 

This purchase was made, you guessed it, on his Amex Black Card and netted him 422 million points. It was a predecessor to this future painting purchase and even stirred up a bit of controversy. When a picture went viral of Liu drinking from the cup, many felt that it was a disrespectful thing to do to such a rare antique.

But Liu was unphased, saying, “Emperor Qianlong has used it, now I’ve used it. [the cup] isn’t a commercial product appropriate for the masses.”

4) $2.5 Million Painting

One of the older entries on this list comes from 1995 when American billionaire Eli Broad attended a Sotheby’s contemporary art sale. On sale was the painting ‘ I…I’m Sorry!’ by artist Roy Lichtenstein. It’s worth noting that at the time, both the American Express Centurion Card and the American Express Black Card hadn’t yet been released. Instead, Broad paid for the $2.5 million painting using his Amex card. It was also a big deal because some major auction houses at the time didn’t even take credit cards and the organizers found it an off way to pay for the painting. 

By making this purchase, he earned 2.5 million points to be spent on any airline in partnership with Amex. While Liu Yiqian Liu planned to fly free for life with his points, Broad took the philanthropic route instead. He donated the points to the California Institute for the Arts to cover travel for students and this contributed to his massive reputation as a supporter of education and the arts. 

Photo by CardMapr.nl on Unsplash


The rich and powerful really live differently from the rest of us. While the average person might put a few thousand dollars worth of purchases on a credit card, they put inconceivable amounts of money on theirs to buy the most insane things.

One common feature of these insane purchases seems to be rare works of art bought at auction, which then goes on to support the arts. On top of this, we see firsthand just how beneficial credit card points and other card benefits can be when earned.

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