A gigantic golden statue of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong was destroyed after nearing completion, apparently because it lacked government approval, state media reported Friday. Images of the nearly 121-foot-tall statue, which reportedly cost 3 million yuan ($460,000), went viral this week on Weibo, China’s microblogging site.

On Friday, a picture circulated on Weibo showed Mao’s statue with its hands, legs and feet appeared to have been hacked off, a black cloth draped over the head. The massive statue was constructed in Zhushigang village, Tongxu County, near the city of Kaifeng in the central Henan province.

“I heard it was destroyed yesterday,” a local delivery worker, who did not want to be named, told the Guardian. “I heard it was because it had occupied a farmer’s land.”

Construction of the statue of China's founding father was funded by several local entrepreneurs and neared completion December after nine months of work, Agence France-Presse reported, citing the HMR.cn portal.

China’s "Great Helmsman," who ruled the country until his death in September 1976, served as chairman of both the People’s Republic of China and the Communist Party of China. The construction of the statue drew criticism on Weibo as many believe Mao was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese citizens because of his economic policies that resulted in a calamitous famine.

However, despite being blamed for millions of deaths, Mao is still widely revered in China.

"In contemporary China, Mao Zedong represents the embodiment of fairness and justice,” Liu Jianwu, dean of China’s Mao Zedong research centre, told the Guardian. “In the hearts of ordinary people, Mao represents fairness and justice. So people hold these kinds of emotions towards him.”