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Rare Winston Churchill painting kept in a NOLA family's closet for over 5 decades recently sold for millions by Angelina Jolie

5 months 3 days 8 hours ago Tuesday, March 02 2021 Mar 2, 2021 March 02, 2021 6:52 AM March 02, 2021 in News
Source: CNN
Winston Churchill’s 'Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque'

A unique Winston Churchill painting that was gifted to US President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II and ended up in a New Orleans' family's home for about five decades before eventually making its way into actor Angelina Jolie's collection sold during a Monday, March 1 record-breaking auction at Christie's in London.

According to CNN, Churchill's "Tower of Koutoubia Mosque," has become his most expensive painting to sell at auction, fetching nearly $11.5 million after fees.

The former British Prime Minister's rare painting was sold by the Jolie Family Collection and features the long shadows and warm tones of a sunset in Marrakech, Morroco, which was a favorite subject of Churchill's to paint.

"Churchill first visited Morocco in 1935 where he fell in love with the quality of light there," said Nick Orchard, head of modern British art at Christie's in London, where the auction took place. "He felt that his paintings of the country were among his best."

The sale more than tripled its high estimate of £2.5 million ($3.5 million). Churchill's previous record was £1.7 million ($2.7 million) in 2014 at Sotheby's London, CNN reports.

The news outlet goes on to say that actor Brad Pitt bought Churchill's sunset scene as a gift to Jolie in 2011. The couple separated in 2016 after two years of marriage.

"Tower of Koutoubia Mosque" is the only painting that Churchill made between 1939 and 1945, during World War II, according to CNN.

In January of 1943, after jointly attending the Casablanca Conference in Morroco to determine the best way to defeat Nazi Germany, Churchill convinced Roosevelt to join him in nearby Marrakech and watch the sun drop behind the Atlas Mountains. Their brief visit together was memorialized by the painting, which Churchill created the very next day when Roosevelt left.

After the conference, the two leaders demanded "unconditional surrender" from Germany, Italy and Japan, a historic declaration that had a massive impact on the war.

Pitt acquired the painting from antiques dealer Bill Rau, who said the painting eventually ended up in New Orleans, where it was kept in a local family's closet for more than fifty years before a family member contacted his gallery, M.S. Rau.

"The painting depicts the very moment the two world leaders shared as they viewed the majestic landscape of Marrakech as the sun set over the Atlas Mountains, and to know Churchill gifted the painting to FDR after their time together excited me even more," Rau said.

Churchill took up painting as a hobby late in life, around age 40, after a failed naval attack during World War I that cost him his title of First Lord of the Admiralty. Quite prolific, Churchill produced over 500 works in his lifetime.

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