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Mao's silk-screen portrait auction sets record
2006-11-17 02:13:08 Shanghai Daily

HONG KONG, Nov. 17 -- An auction for Andy Warhol's portrait of Chairman Mao set a record as the artists' priciest artwork, after a Hong Kong businessman dropped US$17.4 million at the Christie's auction in New York on Wednesday, China News Service reported today.

The Hong Kong-based real-estate tycoon, Joseph Lau Luen-hung, bought Warhol's iconic portrait of Mao Zedong, which is considered one of his most sensational pieces of the 1970s.

It brought in about US$5 million more than expected, the Associated Press reported, citing Christie's.

The portrait was offered by the Swiss-based Daros Collection, owner of one of the greatest private collections of Warhol paintings.

The silk-screened portrait, measuring 81 inches by 61 inches (205 by 155 centimeters), shows Mao in a dark blue jacket against a light blue background. The piece was part of the auction house's evening sale of postwar and contemporary art.

In 1972, Warhol drew 10 portraits of Mao after Richard Nixon's historic visit to China. The one auctioned by Lau was considered the best among them.

Also up for auction was Warhol's 1962 piece "Orange Marilyn," which sold for US$16.2 million, about US$1 million over the estimate, while his "Sixteen Jackies," from 1964, sold for US$15.6 million.

The Daros Collection, based in Zurich, is known for its focus on a small group of artists, including Cy Twombly, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin and Warhol. Its Warhol collection includes "210 Coke Bottles", "Blue Liz as Cleopatra" and "AtomicBomb."

Christie's said the board of the Daros Collection was selling the Mao painting "to raise proceeds for future acquisitions of his prime works from the 1960s."

The previous Warhol record holder was for another copy of "Orange Marilyn," which was auctioned for US$17.3 million by Sotheby's in 1998.

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