Most collectors lucky enough to get hold of an Andy Warhol portrait of Mao Zedong would do everything in their power to protect the piece. When Dennis Hopper acquired the 1972 screenprint, he shot bullets at it.
Despite Hopper's handiwork – visible in two holes perforating the image, one above the Chinese dictator's eye – the picture is expected to sell for $20,000 to $30,000 (around £19,000) when it is sold at Christie's in New York next week as part of an auction of the late actor's remarkable collection of fine art and memorabilia. The sale comes eight months after Hopper's death from prostate cancer at the age of 74. Some 300 works that adorned his Venice Beach home will be up for sale. A previous auction sold a Jean-Michel Basquiat work for $5.8m.
The new sale also includes works by Marcel Duchamp, Gerhard Richter, and Wallace Berman, and memorabilia including a heavily annotated script for Easy Rider. But nothing is expected to raise as much as the piece to which Hopper, a painter himself, made his own unique addition.
The shooting happened one night in the early 1970s at his Los Angeles home. "Dennis, out of the corner of his eyes, saw the Mao and he was so spooked by it that he got up and shot at it, twice, putting two bullet holes in it," Alex Hitz, a trustee of the estate, told the Associated Press. Mr Hitz added: "Andy saw it, loved it and annotated those holes, labeling them 'warning shot' and 'bullet hole'."Reuse content