Mao Tse-Tung letter sold at Sotheby’s for £605,000

Strictly speaking, it may not be art but a letter from Mao Tse Tung to British Labour Party leader Clement Attlee has challenged some of the higher prices in the market for Chinese bygones.

A 1937 letter from Chinese Communist Party leader Mao to Attlee, has sold at Sotheby’s London rooms for £605 000.

mao letter2

Excerpt from Chairman Mao’s letter to Clemet Attlee Image courtesy Sotheby’s

In the letter, Mao asks Attlee to help him battle against Japanese troops invading China. The typed letter reads: “We believe that the British people, when they know the truth about Japanese aggression in China, will rise in support of the Chinese people, will organise practical assistance on their behalf, and will compel their own government to adopt a policy of active resistance to a danger that ultimately threatens them no less than ourselves.”

mao letter

Mao’s letter, which has an extremely rare example of Mao’s signature (above), was sent to Atlee through the journalist James Bertram, along with a note to Attlee asking him to to “keep the enclosed letter, if only as a curiosity.”

The lot, which went under the hammer at Sotheby’s London premises, had an estimate of £100,000-150,000, was bought by a Chinese private collector who obvioulsy thought, at over £600,000, it was certainly a curiosity worth acquiring.

The sale was timed following the widely publicised four-day visit to the UK by Chinese President Xi Jinping in October, when interest in Chinese history is at a high in the UK. Not high enough, however, to keep it here!

Last month, Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell famously threw a copy of the Chinese Communist Party leader’s Little Red Book at Chancellor George Osborne in Parliament, as he claimed UK assets were being sold to China.


Mao Tse Tung   Photo courtesy Bettman/Corbis