First he handed out cash to victims of China’s 2008 earthquake. Then he sold “canned fresh air” to residents of smog-ridden Beijing.

Now Chen Guangbiao, listed as one of China’s 400 richest people and a man known as much for his publicity stunts as his wealth, claims he is in talks to buy The New York Times .

“Soon, I will go to America to do three things,” Mr. Chen told a crowd on Monday night at a news media award reception in the southern Chinese boom town of Shenzhen, according to the semi-official China News Service.

The first, he said, “is to go discuss the acquisition of The New York Times.”

Asked later to elaborate on his plans, Mr. Chen simply told reporters “the negotiation is currently underway.”

However, the publisher of The New York Times has previously denied it is up for sale.

— AFP