A Winston Churchill painting gifted to US President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II, which was part of Angelina Jolie’s collection has become the most expensive painting of the former British Prime Minister ever sold at auction, fetching almost 8, 3 million pounds (approximately 9.6 million euros). The work, The tower of the Koutoubia mosque, represents the long shadows and warm tones of a sunset in Marrakech, Morocco, one of Churchill’s favorite subjects. The painting was a gift from Brad Pitt to his then-wife Jolie in 2011. The couple separated in 2016 after two years of marriage and nine years of relationship.
“Churchill first visited Morocco in 1935 and fell in love with the quality of the local light,” said Nick Orchard, director of British modern art at Christie’s in London, where the auction was held.
The work is signed with the initials WSC and was given by Churchill to Franklin D. Roosevelt after the Casablanca Conference of 1943, where they agreed on the strategy to subdue Nazi Germany. After ten days of the summit, the British leader invited his North American counterpart to accompany him to visit one of his favorite places. “You can’t go all this way to North Africa without seeing Marrakech […]. I have to be with you when you see the sunset in the Atlas Mountains, ”Churchill said.
After five hours of travel, they reached the Moroccan city and Roosevelt was so captivated by that sunset that the premier He did not hesitate to extend his stay in Marrakech to immortalize the scene and offer it as a souvenir to the American president. When Roosevelt passed away, the painting was inherited by his son, and since then it was passed through various owners until 2011, when it was acquired by Pitt.
Two other Churchill paintings were also sold at auction, indicating that the market for the former prime minister’s art continues to grow. In addition to The tower of the Koutoubia mosque two other works of his had a brilliant acceptance at auction. Scene at Marrakech, a light-filled composition of Churchill’s favorite place, was awarded at 2.2 million and St Paul’s Churchyard, sold for 1.2 million.
Brad Pitt’s fondness for art seems to be growing in recent years. In 2008 he was seen at the Swiss fair Art Basel, where the largest swarm of art collectors in the world is concentrated. Wearing dark glasses of false incognito, which he did not take off even to better appreciate the pieces that interested him, he made a tour that transcended his purchase of a painting by the German Neo Rauch, Etappe, for about a million dollars. Since then it has been common at fairs although its presence tries not to be discovered.
Not much is known about the collection that the actor is gathering, but his preference for Neo Rauch’s work is known, which composes strange landscapes with characters that seem to have come out of rigid socialist realism brought to a surreal scene. Another of his favorites and, apparently, also of his ex-wife, Angelina Jolie, is the graffiti artist Banksy. Angelina bought works for a total of $ 400,000 (321,000 euros), including the one titled Picnic in Africa —-226,000 dollars (or 181,000 euros) -, in which a bourgeois family is seen having a beach snack, while 15 hungry African children gaze at them. Pitt also has three works by Bambi, another British graffiti artist. Additionally, Brad Pitt is a well-known admirer and frequent buyer of designer furniture.