This extraordinary artwork was deemed too politically divisive by its donor and, as a result, was left incomplete and later destroyed. Diego Rivera felt a great affinity for the piece and, as such, decided to reconstruct a second version in Mexico. He named that painting Man, Controller of the Universe and could now enjoy a fuller artistic control.
Nelson Rockefeller had commissioned the painting and was content with the general theme of the piece but objected to the depiction of Lenin as well as a parade for the Soviet festival of May Day. For him to destroy it was extraordinary but in line with political sensibilities between capitalism and socialism at that time. Large murals such as this, particularly when multiple portraits are included, typically require considerable amounts of preparatory work. Many photographs of these developmental stages existed and proved helpful in planning and executing the second version.
The donor's original decision to choose Diego Rivera for the commission was due to the affection with which his mother had held the Mexican artist's work in as well as the difficulty in attracting his first two choices of Picasso and Matisse. Rivera's communist leanings were well known and not something he made any attempt to hide, so their decision to make use of his skills and then complain about the content of his work seems somewhat strange.