Mao as master of calligraphy underlined by 1940s letter

Signed Mao Zedong letter – £420,000 at Sotheby’s.

No record exists of any signed, autograph letter in the hand of Mao Zedong being previously sold on the international market, said Sotheby’s (25/20/13.9% buyer’s premium) of the example it offered as part of a June 11 sale of manuscripts, Continental books and music.

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Ian McKay

Signed Mao Zedong letter – £420,000 at Sotheby’s.

Other than signatures in albums, the saleroom could cite only some late manuscript notes and a typed but signed letter to Clement Atlee that sold a few years ago in Sotheby’s own rooms at £500,000, and a small group of letters and documents relating to his dealings with a Manchurian warlord seen at Bonhams New York in 2013.

What Sotheby’s could offer here was something altogether different, and a reminder – in a letter containing family news sent in the late 1940s to a journalist and trusted friend, Yang Yi – that Mao was celebrated as a master calligrapher in his lifetime, his writing widely displayed on public buildings.

Executed on thin laid paper and still with the makeshift envelope formed from a discarded fragment of a printed map, it sold at £420,000.