Andy chooses the only picture in the world that has been distributed in hundreds of millions of copies : the official three-color portrait of Mao Zedong which among other uses illustrates the Little Red Book. Mao succeeded for the popular imagery the unlimited multiplication that Andy had dreamed with his Marilyn's. The historic handshake between Mao and Nixon early in the same year may be just a coincidence.
Andy painted eleven similar Mao's in 1972, 208 cm high with a slightly variable width. The lines and the proportions in relation to the frame are comparable to the official image with the exception of the shadow that invades the left cheek and the chin. The artist changed the color of the tunic and of the background.
A brilliant and carefully executed picture considered as the prototype of that series, 208 x 145 cm, was sold for $ 48M including premium by Sotheby's on November 11, 2015. A Mao 208 x 155 cm was sold for $ 17.4M including premium by Christie's on November 15, 2006. On November 16 in New York, Sotheby's sells a Mao 208 x 152 cm, lot 45 estimated $ 30M.
In the following year Warhol multiplies his Mao's with smaller formats and new color variants. Mao's head, proportionally smaller, has lost the dignity of the official portrait. One of them with a dark red tunic and a black background was sold for $ 13.5M including premium by Phillips de Pury on November 15, 2012 and for $ 14.5M including premium by Sotheby's on May 12, 2015.
SOLD for $ 32.4M including premium