Mao Zedong for sale: iconic portrait of revolutionary leader for auction

The original model for the Mao painting that hung above Tiananmen Square, the symbolic heart of the China's Communist revolution, is expected to fetch 1 million to 1.2 million yuan (66,043-79,252 pounds) when it is sold through a Beijing auction house, the China Daily reported on Friday. Beijing Huachen Auction Co. said the original painting of Mao Zedong, the original of posters that hung above Beijing's Tian'anmen Rostrum in the 1950s and 1960s, will be auctioned on June 3 in Beijing.

Bidding on the painting, which is owned by a Chinese American, was open to both Chinese and foreign prospective buyers, and the next owner would be free to take it out of the country, said an official of Huanchen. Thousands of people have voiced their opinions on websites and Internet chatrooms, with most opposing the auction, according to a report in the Beijing Daily Messenger.

Those who are against the auction said the portrait belonged to a national museum, and the auction is an act of irreverence to the late leader.But those in favor said the goal of the auction was to better evaluate and preserve the portrait. Potential buyers will be able to view the portrait from May 31 to June 2, and the bidding will open on June 3.