Identity of seller of handwritten Mao notes at auction remains unknown

2017-07-12 23:54:58 | From:

The identity of the seller of a collection of handwritten notes of former Chinese leaderMao Zedong, which went for £704,750 ($903,066) at a London auction, remains unknown as China moves to recover relics from abroad.

The notes were written in 1975, a year before Mao's death, to a professor hired to read to Mao. They were sold at Sotheby's in London for 10 times its estimated price, BBC reported Tuesday.

The buyer was a Chinese collector, according to BBC.

However, Liu Yang, a Beijing-based lawyer specializing in cultural relics who has been working to retrieve relics overseas,said that "Mao's belongings are relics of high historical significance to China and are owned by the Chinese government following his death."

Liu told the Global Times that unless Mao had given the notes to the seller before he died, the auction would be considered illegal. He said the seller should identify the source of the notes.

The notes were written when Lu Di, then a Chinese teacher at Peking University, read to him as his health deteriorated, according to BBC.

An auction house specialist on books and manuscripts told the BBC that the rarity of manuscripts written by Mao made it "very difficult to estimate their value in the first place."

The high auction price comes amid an increasing popularity of celebrity letters and notes in the auction market.

In 2015, a message on a notepad written by former Chinese premier Zhou Enlai to former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, which contained 14 characters, was sold for 862,500 yuan ($127,072) at an auction in Shaoxing, East China's Zhejiang Province.

"The price of Red collections has been increasing in recent years," Ni Fangliu, a Nanjing-based archeology expert, told the Global Times.

The "Red collections" as they are dubbed refer to historical artifacts such as the Little Red Book, Mao badges, memorabilia, statuettes and posters reflecting the growth of the People's Republic of China from 1949 to 1979.

Ni said auctions have been growing in popularity as the passing of older generations has given rise to nostalgia among the Chinese people.

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