A Moroccan landscape painted by Winston Churchill and owned by Angelina Jolie sold at auction on Monday for more than $11.5 million, smashing the previous record for a work by Britain’s World War II leader.
“Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque” sold at Christie’s in London for 8.3 million pounds, smashing the predictions of 1.5 million pounds to 2.5 million pounds, as well as the previous record price for a Churchill painting of just under 1.8 million pounds, The Associated Press reported. It was the only painting completed by the British Prime Minister and amateur artist during WWII, he gave it to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943. Christie’s employees adjust an oil on canvas painting by Sir Winston Churchill painted in Jan, called ‘Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque’ during an Art pre-sale photo call at Christie’s auction house in London.
The work depicts a sunset over Marrakech’s largest mosque and is titled “Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque.” The British wartime leader took President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to see it the day after the 1943 Casablanca Conference, where the allies mapped out how to defeat Nazi Germany. Churchill had to convince his U.S. counterpart to stay in Morocco an extra day and make the 150-mile drive to Marrakech.
“You cannot come all this way to North Africa without seeing Marrakech,” Churchill reportedly told Roosevelt, according to a statement from Christie’s in London, where the auction took place on Monday. “I must be with you when you see the sun set on the Atlas Mountains.” Churchill then painted the view they had shared and gave it to Roosevelt the day after their visit, reported The Art Newspaper. Roosevelt’s son sold the painting upon his father’s death. It eventually made its way to Brad Pitt, who gave it as a gift to then-partner Angelina Jolie. It was sold at Christie’s Modern British art evening by the Jolie Family Collection to an unknown Belgian bidder who bought two other Churchill paintings as well, reported The Art Newspaper. “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, according to CNN. “He felt that his paintings of the country were among his best.”