One of the works of the Pop Art icon Andy Warhol recently went under the hammer recently, a sign of the demand for pop art prints of Warhol’s work. Oddly though, the classic Warhol piece failed to meet the estimated value appraised for it.
A classic amidst the many of Andy Warhol’s pop art prints, the portrait of former Communist China leader, Mao Zedong, was sold recently at a Hong Kong auction last March 26, but only managed to fetch $12.7 M, falling short of the most accepted estimated value of $15 M.
The classic portrait piece, a silk-screen print from 1973, made by the famous U.S. artist, drew plenty of attention to its presence in the country prior to being placed under the hammer in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous city under China, owing to China’s sensitivity regarding depictions of their former leader.
The highest sale price estimate, $15 M, was the highest value for a single piece that Sothesby’s has ever seen for a piece in Asia.
The buyer has chosen to remain anonymous, and their identity has not been released.
Sothesby’s had described the sale as the first of its kind in Hong Kong. Up until this recent auction, the country of Hong Kong has not had a major sale of Western contemporary art since the country was handed back to China by the Brits way back in 1997.
But while buyers from the Mainland have managed to secure notable market shares, Warhol’s images of Mao have still drawn controversy.
A major tour, which was heavily retrospective of Mao Zedong’s track record, led to the removal of his pictures when it travelled to Shanghai and Beijing last 2013.
Mao is the founding father of Communist China, and, as such, his legacy renders him interconnected to official government propaganda solidifying the party’s legitimacy to lead, and the iconic large potrait of him overlooking Tiananmen Square still remains, and Chinese bank notes still have his image printed on them.
His mistakes, however, such as his disastrous economic platform, which is held to be the cause of mass starvation, as well as the political witch hunts of the Cultural Revolution, has left China with bad aftertaste, and depictions of him remain strictly controlled by the Chinese government.