The only painting made by former President of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill during World War II was sold by actress Angelina Jolie for a record $11.6 million (8,285,000 pounds), making it the most expensive painting by the former British prime minister to sell at auction.
This rare painting called “Tower of Koutoubia Mosque” features a Moroccan landscape and shows the image of the 12th-century mosque in Marrakech at sunset. The majestic Atlas Mountains are seen in the background.
It was gifted by Churchill to the President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt. After President Roosevelt’s death in 1945, the painting was sold by his son and has many years before it eventually found its way into the art collection of the famous actress Jolie and her former husband Brad Pitt.
The painting was sold by the famous auction house Christie’s and the buyer’s name was not disclosed.
“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 history of the painting is also interesting. In January 1943, Churchill and Roosevelt jointly attended the Casablanca Conference, where the two leaders planned the defeat of Nazi Germany. After the conference, Churchill convinced Roosevelt to join him in nearby Marrakech and watch the sun drop behind the Atlas Mountains. He then presented this painting to Roosevelt as a memento of the trip.
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.
Churchill was a prolific painter and has been known to create over 500 works over the course of his life. However, this piece was the only one that he created during the Second World War in the period of 1939 to ’45.0