World News

Valuable stolen Mao Zedong scroll found cut in half in Hong Kong

A calligraphy scroll by Mao Zedong said to worth HK$2.3 billion, part of a haul stolen last month from a renowned collector and torn into two pieces after being resold to a man who thought it was counterfeit, is seen in Hong Kong, China Police Public Relations Branch/Handout via Reuters

HONG KONG (Reuters) - A stolen Chinese calligraphy scroll written by Chairman Mao Zedong and estimated to be worth millions of dollars has been found in Hong Kong, police said on Thursday, after it was stolen from an art collector’s home in September.

The 2.8 metre scroll had been cut in half as it been deemed too long to display, police told a news conference on Wednesday.

It was looted on Sept. 10, along with stamps, coins and other pieces of calligraphy worth a total of HK$5 billion ($645 million), said senior superintendent Tony Ho.

An independent valuation was not immediately available.

Mao memorabilia remains highly sought after in China with many businesses in the mainland trying to cash in by selling collectables from the Cultural Revolution. Fakes are rampant due to a proliferation of reproductions.

“Someone thought the calligraphy was too long ... and difficult to show and display. That’s why it was cut in half,” Ho said.

The scroll was cut in two for storage purposes by a buyer who purchased it for a mere HK$500 ($65) and believed it to be counterfeit, the South China Morning Post reported, citing an unnamed police source.

Police have arrested three men for the robbery.

Reporting by Yanni Chow; writing by Farah Master; editing by Giles Elgood