Winston Churchill Made a Painting and Gave It to FDR. Then Angelina Jolie Got It. She Just Sold It for $11.6 Million at Christie’s
A Winston Churchill painting from the collection of Hollywood star Angelina Jolie fetched $ 11.6 million in Christie’s surprisingly successful evening sale of modern British art yesterday, March 1.
Sales were £ 25.6 million ($ 35.8 million), with 97 percent sold by lot and 99 percent by value. The final prices include premiums, unless otherwise stated. Presale estimates do not.
The evening was chaired by the British Prime Minister of War Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque, This was painted as a gift for US President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II as a symbol of the special relationship between the two allied nations.
It was painted in Marrakech in 1943, shortly after the Allies met in Casablanca, where they decided to only accept Germany’s “unconditional surrender”.
The work later passed to FDR’s son and changed hands a few times before it was taken over by Jolie’s family, who have owned it since 2011. It was bought by the New Orleans gallery MS Rau Antiques. ((CNN reports that it was a gift from Brad Pitt, who was dating Jolie at the time. Artnet News reached out to the gallery for confirmation but didn’t hear back at the time of going to press.
The historic heritage and much-touted Hollywood connection attracted fierce offers from 10 different parties, which they played for nine minutes before grossing £ 7 million, nearly three times their high pre-sale estimate.
Taking fees into account, the sale set a new auction record for Churchill’s work of £ 8.3 million (US $ 11.6 million). The result far exceeds the previous record, which was set when The Goldfish Pool at Chartwell grossed £ 1.7m ($ 2.7m) at Sotheby’s London in 2014.
“Churchill’s works are more than just works of art, they are objects of historical importance, which certainly arouses enthusiasm and interest in them,” Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie’s main auctioneer, told Artnet News. “Churchill is now firmly anchored in the cannon of modern British painting. I think we assume his political career was bigger than his artistic career, but I think art collectors see his work differently. “
The record work was secured by an anonymous telephone bidder by Belgian specialist Olivier Camu, although Pylkkänen said the buyer was not Belgian.
It wasn’t the only Churchill work that sold last night. Scene in Marrakech, a World War II gift for Field Marshal General Viscount Montgomery, fetched £ 1.9 million ($ 2.6 million) and St. Paul’s Churchyard brought in £ 1.1 million ($ 1.5 million). Both works exceeded their pre-sale estimates and were undercut by an online collector in Texas.
Sir Winston Churchill, Scene in Marrakech (1935). © Christie’s Images Limited 2021.
The results for a modern British sale were remarkable, with Pylkkänen noting that the average lot value of one million dollars was the highest in the history of the auction house for a modern British sale. The total was also the second highest in this category in the past decade.
Surprisingly, none of the works on sale had a pre-sale guarantee. “For the past ten years, I’ve lived in an environment where customers want security,” says Pylkkänen. “And here we are at a time when people need reassurance for all sorts of reasons and feel dissatisfied with things that are going on in their world and in their private lives. However, here we have a sale without guarantees, extremely successful and with no withdrawn lots. ”
The auctioneer was most enthusiastic about the online interest the sale generated. The house claims 185,000 people watched on multiple platforms and Pylkkänen has bid from 12 countries – interest, he says, exceeds even the big sales in New York in the past.
“If you think the UK is going into a lockdown and private customers have not been able to see this, I think this is evidence that the globalization of the art market through digital channels is changing the way people perceive Christie’s. has completely changed sales, ”he says.
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