Easy Shooter

Auction Block for Warhol’s Mao
with Dennis Hopper’s Bullet Holes

JUST IN: Hopper’s estranged fifth wife, Victoria Duffy Hopper, has succeeded in halting the sale of a significant portion of the actor’s art collection after lodging court papers in California. But the temporary decision affects only part of the auction lot: Warhol’s Mao has already been sold for $302,500, more than 10 times its estimated sale price.

When Dennis Hopper died last May, his best film acting and directing work were far behind him. But his developed taste for photography and painting, if it never matched the success he had on screen, helped him to become a gifted collector.
By the mid 1970s, he’d already acquired several seminal works of contemporary artists, such as the 1972 silk-screen “Mao Zedong”, by one the hottest artists of the time, Andy Warhol. At the same time, Hopper had also acquired a sizable appetite for drugs and alcohol.
The combination of the painting and of his binges proved explosive. And somewhat historical. In one of his rages, Hopper put two bullet holes on the already expensive painting, which would’ve been enough to deplete it from its value and prestige, had it been created by any other artist.
But since its author was Warhol, a master at turning his own work into valuable commodities, the gun-powered singed holes added an extra appeal to the painting. Warhol named Hopper a co-author of sorts and both profited heftily from the incident.
Next week, Mao is the main painting of Hopper’s collection to hit the auction block at Christie’s, and it’s expected to sell for upwards $20,000, bullet holes included, of course. About 300 other fine art and memorabilia owned by the actor will also be auctioned.
Among them, there’re posters from “Apocalypse Now,” ”Blue Velvet” and “Speed,” a 158-page unbound “Easy Rider” script, with extensive handwritten notes on the back of two pages, and a three-sheet poster from the film, which also starred the then unknown actor Jack Nicholson.
The sale is what Hopper’d always wished, according to his family. The collection is said to occupy several rooms of his former house in Venice Beach, California. On related news, works by among others, Warhol who died in 1987, were recently stolen from a loft in New York City and are still missing.

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