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Christie’s Withdraws Hopper Lots; Mao Makes $302,500

"Mao" by Andy Warhol. Dennis Hopper, who died last year at 74, shot the screenprint during a wild night in the early 1970s, mistaking the picture for the actual Chinese leader. The work sold at auction at Christie's International in New York for $302,500. Source: Christies via Bloomberg

Christie’s International said it has pulled lots from the New York sale of artworks from the estate of the late actor Dennis Hopper after a legal challenge by his estranged wife.

“As a result of a title claim,” the London-based auction house said in an e-mailed statement before the two-day sale started, “Christie’s must withdraw 32 items from the sale until such time as the title claim is resolved.”

Yesterday, an Andy Warhol print of Mao Zedong that Hopper shot up during a wild night in the 1970s sold for $302,500. The price, which included buyer’s commission, was more than 10 times the high presale estimate of $30,000.

“Warhol’s Mao: One Plate” was among almost 300 artworks and pieces of memorabilia that Christie’s was selling from the estate of the actor, who died at 74 in May last year from prostate cancer.

The blue-faced Mao print went to investment banker Amed Khan, who beat several telephone bidders to acquire his first Warhol.

Hopper’s widow, Victoria Duffy Hopper, brought a case in the Los Angeles Superior Court. The actor filed for divorce from his fifth wife in January 2010.

Christie’s two-day Hopper Collection sale consists of more affordable artworks and items of memorabilia estimated at under $50,000. Hopper’s 30 most valuable pieces had been offered in November at Christie’s evening contemporary-art auction, where they raised a total of $12.8 million. A 1987 mixed-media work by Jean-Michel Basquiat sold for $5.8 million.

The “Interiors” sale continues today.

(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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