Actor Dennis Hopper’s bullet-riddled painting of Mao by Andy Warhol sold for an astounding $302,500 during an auction at Christie’s on 12 January. The final figure overshot the initial estimate by over ten times. The painting was estimated to sell between $20,000 and $30,000, high enough figures. However, the proceedings at the two-day auction revealed otherwise.
The painting of Mao by Andy Warhol is a 1972 screen print. Blues and greens touched by a smattering of red form the palette of this famous painting of the Chinese Communist leader. Warhol is known for his iconic depictions of Mao. However, the painting in Hopper’s collection gained greater significance because of the two bullet holes.
The story goes that Hopper once mistook the painting for the real Mao Ze Dong and fired shots at it. Later, when Warhol saw the bullet holes, he circled them. The shot over Mao’s shoulder was labelled “warning shot”; the other on Communist leader’s upper left eyelid was tagged “bullet hole”. Hopper and Warhol came to consider the painting as a collaborated work.
Hundreds of artworks from Hopper’s collection were up for auction from the actor’s home in California. A 1967 screen print of Marilyn Monroe by Warhol also overshot the pre-sale estimations and sold for $206,500. Apart from Warhol, the works of art being auctioned boasted names like Annie Leibovitz, Marcel Duchamp and Helmut Newton.
Last November, a similar auction of Hopper’s most valuable art ended up raising over $10 million. Hopper died of cancer last year at the age of seventy-four.