Picture: Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque by Sir Winston Churchill, Supplied by Christies
The art auction market is well used to seeing paintings by the likes of Monet, Picasso and Leonardo da Vinci far exceed their estimates and sell for record-breaking sums, but few would have expected a former British Prime Minister to join that club. However, Winston Churchill has done just that, when one of his paintings sold at auction for $11.5 million, far exceeding the $3.5 million estimate. To add to this the seller was none other than Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, who was gifted the work by her ex-husband Brad Pitt.
The painting is titled Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque and is one of very few completed by Churchill during war time, having been painted in 1943 while visiting Marrakech in Morocco with President Roosevelt for the Casablanca Conference, a key moment in WWII. This painting was then gifted to the President, so the names of its owners are quite illustrious. Brad Pitt reportedly bought the painting from New Orleans-based antiques dealer Bill Rau, who told Architectural Digest, 'We were first notified about this spectacular oil on canvas by Winston Churchill by a local dealer. Apparently, the owner had inherited it when her stepfather passed. It had been hidden away in her stepfather’s closet for nearly 50 years without anyone knowing what a treasure they had sequestered in their home.'
The painting was in such demand at the Christie's auction that ten bidders entered into a nine minute bidding war before the final winner swooped in to claim it for $11.5 million. It is unclear why Angelina Jolie decided to sell the work. Two other Churchill works were also up for grabs at the auction, and both exceeded their estimates too.
Written by Charlotte McCaughan-Hawes.
This article originally appeared on House & Garden UK.