This sorry event should not pass without mention of a noble effort by Todd Milligan of Oakville, Ontario, to find a buyer for “Katoubia Mosque” who would preserve it for future generations by loaning it for exhibit at suitable institutions. Mr. Milligan contacted the FDR Library and Museum, the U.S. National Archives, the Office of Presidential Libraries, the Smithsonian, Hillsdale College, Churchill Heritage Ltd. and several Americans of means, describing this unique opportunity. Such a historic and beautiful work, he pleaded, should not be secreted in some palacio, oasis or private atoll, but “returned to display for the American people whom President Roosevelt led.” (Ironically the painting would be at Hyde Park today had not FDR’s son Elliott, no admirer of WSC, sold it almost immediately after inheriting it.)
“Failing the chance to acquire this work means it could possibly end up forever stored as a commodity in the tax-free exile of the Geneva Freeport, where well-heeled collectors trade, sell and store thousands of their treasured items within highly secured warehouse settings, stored in darkness as simply possessions of value,” Todd wrote. “It should remain in the American public's eye, cherished not only for the relationship between two great leaders but symbolic of the two nations they led respectively to freedom.”
Todd planted several seeds and several of us planted more, but despite the colossal private fortunes we frequently hear of, finding someone to pay $11 million for a painting exhibited by an institution is a fraught task. Especially by an artist now denounced as a racist warmonger devoted to an empire worse than the Nazis’ by a recent academic panel. Alas in the end the buck remained, as ever, almighty. Nevertheless, thanks and a tip of the hat to Todd Milligan.
Todd Milligan writes: I must confess I was very nervous watching the auction unfold on YouTube, where it can be seen:
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