When it comes to world leaders few are as influential, or as controversial, as China’s Mao Zedong.
To some he’ll always be the architect of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution – two of the most devastating directives in Chinese history.
To others he’s the Great Helmsman, who pushed China to a place at the top table of nations.
Modern China is very different to how it was in Mao’s time, but you’ll still see his influence throughout the political system.
Given his importance to Chinese history, you won’t be surprised to learn the demand for his autograph is intense. Examples have sold for close to $1m in the past.
Here’s a few reasons why prices are pushing ever higher.
You can’t understand modern China without Mao
It’s impossible to overstate Mao Zedong’s influence on China.
Mao Zedong's rule changed the face of modern China (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
After he took power in 1949, he executed an overarching series of reforms. Some of these were devastating. Tens of millions died in the famines caused by his push to transition China into an industrial nation. Mao has been compared with Hitler for the damage his ideology caused.
And yet, you’ll still find many in China who revere Mao for getting the nation a seat at the top table. For driving out the imperialists and standing the country back on its feet.
Whichever side of the argument you stand, there’s no denying his importance.
China looks the way it does today because of Mao.
His autograph is incredibly rare
Chairman Mao wasn’t someone you could just approach and ask for an autograph.
He was constantly surrounded by guards.
He lived the life of a virtual recluse in Zhongnanhai, a compound in Shanghai’s Forbidden City, and rarely ventured out.
Very few examples of his signature have ever been offered for sale. They’re incredibly rare at auction – you can count the number on one hand over the past 50 years.
Since 2015, two have sold.
The first, a letter Mao wrote to British Labour Party leader Clement Atlee in 1937, realised £605,000 ($772,466).
The second, a handwritten page of classical Chinese poetry, made £704,750 ($899,828) in 2017.
There’s a huge market of buyers
The main factor driving these huge prices is the growth of wealth in China.
Since the early 2000s, the economy exploded. New millionaires and billionaires are being minted with astonishing regularity.
As I stated earlier, Mao is a divisive figure.
But he’s an important one.
Given his impact, it’s no wonder wealthy buyers – no matter their political affiliation - are competing hard to own a specimen.
All the best,
PS. Do you have a Chairman Mao autograph? I may be able to help you sell it. Get in touch today at firstname.lastname@example.org.