This image of the 12th century Marrakech mosque at sunset, with the Atlas Mountains in the background, could become Churchill’s most expensive work if we look at the auctioneers’ estimation. The painting was inherited by Elliot Roosevelt, son of the American president, who sold it in 1950, five years after the death of his father, to George Woodward, a collector from Nebraska. It was later acquired by film producer Norman Hickman and, after his death, it became the property of his second wife, who bequeathed it to their daughter. In 2011 Brad Pitt bought it from the antiquarian MS Rau with the intention of giving it to his wife Angelina Jolie, from whom he would separate five years later.
In addition to his political career, he developed a multidisciplinary career as an artist with more than 500 works including paintings, sculptures, drawings, watercolors and photographs.
Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was not the only politician who enjoyed painting. Hitler and Franco also devoted part of their free time to paintbrushes. In the case of the Nazi leader, paintings featuring architectural landscapes that have been sold at auction for hundreds of thousands of euros, while the Spanish dictator made realistic and naïve works in which his still lifes, seascapes and everyday Moroccan scenes signed with him stood out. Pseudonym of Gironés and awarded in public sales for a few thousand euros.
Churchill’s most expensive works
1.8 million euros. ‘The Goldfish Pond at Chartwell’ (sold in 2014)
1.2 million ‘Chartwell Landscape with Sheep’ (2007)
1.1 million ‘Tapestries in Blenheim’ (2014)
Churchill, in addition to his political career, developed in parallel a multidisciplinary career as an artist, leaving for posterity more than 500 works including paintings, sculptures, drawings, watercolors and photographs. Since 1987, 152 works (139 paintings, 5 sculptures, 4 photographs and two drawings and watercolors) have been auctioned. 99.2% of all pieces awarded in the last decade were sold in the UK. During 2020, three works out of his hand were auctioned that totaled 894,000 euros but another pair offered did not find a bidder. In 2020 it was placed 811 in the world ranking of artists at auction. His market reached its zenith in 2014 when 18 of his works raised 11.5 million euros, which allowed him to climb to position 135 just behind Diego Giacometti.
There are only three Churchill paintings that have exceeded a million euros in the fall of the hammer. The ranking is led by The Goldfish Pond at Chartwell, which was auctioned on December 17, 2014 at Sotheby’s for 1.8 million euros, tripling its previous estimate. This painting was the last that the British Conservative leader executed, dated 1962. He gave it to Sergeant Edmund Murray, who was his bodyguard for years. Also to Sotheby’s belongs the second place for a work by the British premier in a tender held in July 2007. Its title was Chartwell Landscape with Sheep, which handled an initial appraisal between 220,000 and 300,000 euros and raised the flight to 1.2 million euros. The third place of the top holds it Tapestries in Blenheim which was awarded, again at Sotheby’s, in December 2014 for 1.1 million euros, when its estimate was between 250,000 and 380,000 euros.
On March 1, Christie’s is looking for a buyer for the Koutobia Mosque Tower, the only painting that Winston Churchill made during the years of World War II. Nick Orland, head of the British Modern Art department of the auction house, assures that “this work is the best of Churchill due to the importance of the subject for him and the fact that it highlights the magnitude of the friendship between the two leaders”. This canvas was given to Roosevelt to commemorate the trip to Morocco by both of them to attend, together with General De Gaulle, the Casablanca Conference that was held between January 14 and 24, 1943 and in which the allies laid the foundations for coordinate your strategy to defeat Hitler.
It is Churchill’s best due to the importance of the subject to him and the fact that it highlights the magnitude of his friendship with Roosevelt.
Prior to this meeting, the leaders of the United States and Great Britain met at the White House where Churchill told the American president of the beauty of the city of Marrakech that John Lavery, his painting teacher, discovered to him, suggesting that he visit Morocco. . He began to produce Moroccan-themed paintings from 1935 and their number exceeds fifty. That Moroccan scene was not the first that the British politician gave to an American president, since Marrakech, another landscape of this city, donated it to Harry Truman. Years later, in 2007, this painting would go up for auction, selling for 556,240 euros.
Orland explains that in Koutobia Mosque Tower you can see “the long shadows and the purple of the mountains and the depth of the sky, a classic sunset.” Churchill took two days to paint this painting, which has been valued by the experts at Christie’s between 1.7 and 2.8 million euros. Its previous owner was actress Angelina Jolie who received it from her husband, Brad Pitt.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
A collection of 25 million euros
Following their divorce, Jolie and Pitt’s art collection was valued at around € 25 million. It was nurtured by contemporary and modern artists such as the graffiti artist Banksy, the subversive and revolutionary Canadian who uses watercolor and Chinese ink Marcel Dzama, the German expressionist Neo Rauch and the multiple artist Dom Pattinson who is also represented in the collections of Victoria Beckham and George Clooney, among others.