Now on Artnet Auctions: Learn The Story Behind Andy Warhol’s Iconic Image of Mao Zedong

A rare set of ten prints from Andy Warhol's 'Mao' series are currently being offered in our Contemporary Editions sale through January 28.

Andy Warhol, Mao (complete set of 10 works) (1972). Est. $800,000–1,200,000 in our Contemporary Editions sale on Artnet Auctions. Image via ARS.

Andy Warhol’s iconic depiction of Chairman Mao Zedong is an instantly recognizable image—both of subject and creator. While the opportunity to collect a well-known work by a star artist such as Warhol is rare, rarer still is the chance to collect a well-preserved and complete set of ten prints. Artnet Auctions is thrilled to provide this unique opportunity to collectors with Andy Warhol’s Mao (complete set of 10 works) (1972), live now through January 28 and estimated at $800,000–1,200,000 in our Contemporary Editions sale. 

As an artist, Warhol constantly mined pop culture for inspiration, and his portrait of Chairman Mao Zedong was no exception. In 1972, President Richard Nixon ended years of diplomatic isolation between the US and China when he visited China to meet with Mao, a controversial Communist revolutionary and founder of the People’s Republic of China. This historic event deeply affected Warhol, as he created nearly 200 silkscreen paintings of the Chinese leader in the years following Nixon’s highly-publicized visit. 

Warhol’s source image for the prints was a photograph of Mao that illustrated the cover of the widely circulated Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong book carried by Mao’s followers. Warhol’s silkscreen portraits of Mao are considered to be among Warhol’s first explicitly political pieces. In commenting on the nature of state-controlled media by joining it together with the visual language of Western advertising, Warhol made a clear statement about propaganda and psychological influence.  

The percentage of Warhol prints and multiples that have sold for over their high estimates at auction in a given year has steadily increased over the last decade, showing a healthy demand.

In 2020, the global sales volume for Warhol prints and multiples topped $31,000,000. The percentage of lots that sold for over their high estimate rose from 56 to 65 percent, signifying strong and consistent demand for Warhol’s prints on the market. The last time a similarly stamp-authenticated set of Mao prints sold at auction was at Sotheby’s London in 2014, where the set sold for $839,271. Taking into account the scarcity of this set and the numerous institutional retrospectives (as well as inflation) between 2014 and today, our estimate of $800,000–1,200,000 falls right in line with the market price for complete sets of this work. The work has stellar provenance as well, having only been in two private collections since coming directly from the Warhol Foundation.

Don’t miss your opportunity to collect the rare-to-market, stamp-authenticated, well-preserved complete set of ten screenprints of Chairman Mao by Andy Warhol, and click here to place your bids before Contemporary Editions closes on January 28.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out directly to the specialist for this lot, Conner Williams, with any questions.

Head of Prints & Multiples

[email protected]

+1 (212) 497-9700 ext. 705


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