It Was Worth a Fortune —Then He Cut It in Half

Hong Kong buyer apparently thought scroll by Mao was a fake
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2020 2:50 PM CDT
He Figured This Mao Scroll Was a Fake, Cut It in Half
In this photo provided by Hong Kong Police Force, two pieces of a calligraphy scroll by former Chinese leader Mao Zedong are displayed.   (Hong Kong Police Force via AP)

(Newser) – Hong Kong police delivered some good news and bad news to a collector of antique artifacts. The good: They recovered a long scroll of calligraphy written by none other than Mao Zedong that had been stolen from the collector's apartment. The bad: It seems that the thieves who stole the scroll sold it on the cheap to a guy who assumed it was fake, and he cut in half, reports the South China Morning Post. "It was heartbreaking to see it be torn into two pieces,” says collector Fu Chunxiao. "It will definitely affect its value, but the impact remains to be seen." Heartbreaking may be an understatement: Stories about the incident peg the value of the scroll at just under $300 million.

Police have not confirmed that estimate, which is used not only in the SCMP but by the AFP and the AP. It appears to come from Fu himself. Still, it's safe to say the scroll was worth a small fortune, and now maybe not so much. Police say the buyer of the stolen scroll paid only about $60 for it and assumed it was fake. Not to mention hard to store. "According to our investigation, someone thought that the calligraphy was too long," says a police official. "It was difficult to show it, to display it, and that’s why it was cut in half." Meanwhile, police have arrested one burglary suspect and are searching for two others. (Read more Mao Zedong stories.)

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