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Winston Churchill’s Unique WWII Painting Sold for a Record-Breaking Price from Angelina Jolie

The Marrakech sunset scene was painted in 1943 by Winston Churchill, the only artistic work from him throughout World War II, and breaks the auction record previously held for his work sold for a mere $2.76 million.

The rare painting by Winston Churchill, Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque, gifted to the US president Franklin D. Roosevelt in the second world war was sold at Christie’s Modern British Art evening sale on March 1, Monday, for a staggering £8.285 million (almost $12 million). Before the sale, it was part of Angelina Jolie’s expansive art collection, worth around $25 million, with her ex-husband, Brad Pitt.

The British prime minister completed over 550 paintings despite starting late at around 40, but the painting he did during sunset in Marrakech, Morocco, was the only one he did in WWII between 1939 and 1945. It was done during his time with the world leaders at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943 to discuss Nazi Germany and strategize their surrender.

Prime minister Churchill convinced the then-US president to join him to watch the sun set behind the Atlas mountains in Marrakech. He was so enthralled by the scene that he captured it in the form of a painting which he completed the day after President Roosevelt’s departure. As historic as the conference was for the World War, the painting also symbolic of the day.

Nick Orchard, head of modern Christie’s Modern British Art in London, mentions that prime minister Churchill felt his paintings of the country were “among his best”.

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“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,” antique dealer Bill Rau, who sold the painting to the couple, told CNN last month.

This painting was bought by Pitt as a gift for his ex-wife in 2011 from Rau, who said that it was sold by President Roosevelt’s son to a filmmaker in the 1960s. It then ended up in New Orleans as it was stored for over five decades in a local family’s closet before a family member contacted Rau’s gallery, M.S. Rau.

This combination of pictures created on February 25, 2021 shows (top) a general view of the Moroccan city of Marrakesh on February 24 , 2021, and (bottom) gallery workers pose with an artwork titled Tower of Koutoubia Mosque by Winston Churchill during a photocall at Christies auction house in central London on February 17, 2021. - Hollywood's Angelina Jolie and Britain's iconic wartime prime minister Sir Winston Churchill, a keen artist who took inspiration from the Moroccan city of Marrakesh, are combining for a March 1 date at Christie's auction house in London.Marrakech present day vs Churchill’s famous painting.
Photo Credits: FADEL SENNA and Tolga Akmen, AFP via Getty Images

The current selling price was way above the highest estimate of around $3.4 million that the auction house had made, which is still higher than the next most expensive sale of Churchill’s work. A painting of a school of goldfish in a pond at his Chartwell country house in Kent, England, was his next highest work sale among his work to be sold in an auction, back in 2014, for $2.76 million, Forbes reports.

Another painting done in the same Moroccon city, Scene at Marrakech, was sold for almost $2.6 million, while another of his million-dollar work, St Paul’s Churchyard, was sold at nearly around $1.5 million.

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Last modified: March 2, 2021