MAO PAINTING FETCHES 7.6 MILLION POUNDS

Chairman Mao Zedong's painting by American pop artist Andy Warhol has been auctioned here for a whopping 7.6 million pounds, 18 times more than the price paid last time it went to auction. Warhol was said to have been inspired to create the iconic series of Chinese communist leader Mao's paintings by the historic visit of the then US president Richard Nixon to China in 1972. The artist transformed the official portrait of the Chinese leader, in this case using the red and yellow colour scheme of the Cultural Revolution. It was last sold at auction in June 2000 for just 421,500 pounds, The Telegraph reported. The paintings were excluded from a major show of Warhol's work exhibited in China last year. The US-based Andy Warhol Museum that organised the tour of his work said: "Although we had hoped to include our Mao paintings in the exhibition to show Warhol's keen interest in Chinese culture, we understand that certain imagery is still not able to be shown in China." The organisers did not indicate whether they had been censored by Chinese authorities. The auction at Sotheby's in London also included the sale of Gerhard Richter's 1994 abstract work Wand (Wall) for 17.4 million pounds. The oil painting has been shown in 20 museum exhibitions, including a Richter retrospective "Forty Years of Painting" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, but it had never before been offered for sale by the artist. Another high-profile newcomer on to the art market was Lucian Freud's 1961 painting, "Head on a Green Sofa", which sold for 2.9 million pounds.

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