Two secret documents signed by China’s Mao Zedong during the 1930s sold for almost a million dollars at a New York auction on Wednesday, reported the state-run news agency China News Service.
The rare documents are related to the famous 1936 Xi’an Incident, a turning point in Chinese history when one of Chiang Kai-shek’s most trusted generals, the “Young Marshal” Zhang Xueliang, placed him under house arrest — forcing the leader of the nationalist Chinese Republic of China to negotiate a cease-fire with Mao’s Communists, in order to fight a joint war against the Japanese invasion.
One of the documents — a letter urging the Nationalists to fight alongside the Communists to resist the Japanese — was signed by Mao and another high-ranking Communist official, Peng Dehuai, sold for $458,000, reports the China News Service.
A second, sold for $506,000, details the plan to pressure Chiang into cooperating, according to Bonhams.
The two documents, along with other memorabilia once belonging to Zhang Xueliang’s family, were brought to the United States in 1941 by Hyland Lyon, a Californian who arrived in Shanghai in 1934 and later became Zhang’s pilot and bodyguard to his wife and son.
Zhang Xueliang spent most of the rest of his life under house arrest after he released Chiang Kai-shek in December 1936. An 8-page letter to his family written in 1937 sold for a record $850,000 at the auction, reported BBC China.
According to CNS, the entire collection sold for a total of $2.7 million. It is not known who purchased the documents, but CNS reported that several Chinese museums had contacted the auction house in an attempt to bring the collection back to China.