The Onassis family will auction Winston Churchill’s paintings art culture news
After decades of storage, a painting by Winston Churchill will soon be auctioned at the Phillips auction house in New York with an estimated value of US$1.5 million to US$2 million.
The landscape, the moat, and Blakeler were painted by Churchill in 1921 and kept in his own collection for 40 years. “He doesn’t like to give away or sell paintings,” said Jean-Paul Engelen, Phillips’ vice chairman and global co-head of 20th century and contemporary art.
But after establishing a friendship with shipping giant Aristotle Onassis in the late 1950s, Churchill decided to award Onassis an honor previously awarded to selected groups including Queen Elizabeth and Dwight D. Eisenhower: Churchill’s A gift of art.
Specifically, he gave Onassis the moat, Blakelys. “If your friend is Onassis, he is one of the richest and most powerful businessmen in the world, then obviously you will give him something that you cherish and be proud of,” Englen said.
Onassis was properly touched. Engelen said that he displayed the painting in the salon of his superyacht Christina, where it was hung with paintings by Greco, Pissarro, Gauguin and Vermeer.
This work depicts the idyllic summer landscape of Breccles Hall, the property of Churchill’s wife’s cousin, a historic manor in Norfolk. In the 1964 documentary “Winston Churchill’s Another World”, the last time this painting appeared to the public was at the Salon of Onassis.
Churchill and Onassis have been friends since Churchill’s son Randolph introduced them in 1956.
According to a press release from Phillips, the former prime minister made no less than eight voyages on Onassis’ ship from 1958 to 1963. This yacht was once one of the most famous yachts in the world. According to reports, Onassis bought the Canadian frigate for $34,000 at the end of World War II, and then spent $4 million to refurbish it.
In a letter to his wife, Churchill described Christina as “the most beautiful floating building I have ever seen.”
Onassis then used this yacht to host celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, billionaires such as Paul Getty, artists such as Rudolf Nuriev, and dignitaries such as John F. and Jackie Kennedy. They married Onassis in 1968.
Among its many features, Christina includes a bar (“Ari’s bar”), which features whale teeth and stools covered with whale foreskin.
When Onassis died in 1975, his daughter donated the ship to the Greek government, but the ship’s items were still in his home, and Churchill’s paintings were also stored. “They knew they had this painting,” Englen said. “After talking, it was decided that maybe this painting should be left to the next generation of collectors, not in the warehouse.”
The work will be unveiled at the 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Auction at Phillips’ new headquarters on Park Avenue in New York on June 23.
The auction took place after a public record of Churchill’s works was set at Christie’s in London in March, when actress Angelina Jolie sold Churchill’s 1943 painting “The Library” for less than $11.6 million. Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque. Engelen said he learned that two other paintings by Churchill had been sold privately for $5 million.
The history of Phillips in rendering the painting is understandable: a promotional video has been made and plans to replicate the “Ali Bar” at the auction house headquarters before the auction. Customers will be invited to the bar for a glass of Pol Roger, Churchill’s favorite champagne, but Engelen pointed out that the whale’s teeth are fake and the whale’s foreskin “will not be remade.”
Churchill’s paintings will be hung in the reconstructed bar, and he continued, “and tell the story of these two 20th-century titans.” Englen said, this is a rare example, “when art history and world history come together Time”.