Auction Sale of "The Tower of Katoubia Mosque"

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ric...@langworth.name

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Mar 2, 2021, 10:19:28 AM3/2/21
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Dr. Antoine Capet writes: I was surprised to hear of the auction only today, "after the battle" - I did not see anything about it in advance in the usual Churchillian sources of information, the more so as it is the famous wartime painting given to President Roosevelt. Anyway, here is the result : A painting by Sir Winston Churchill and owned by Angelina Jolie has been sold for £8.285m. Details on the Skynews site :

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.

Richard M. Langworth CBE
Senior Fellow, Hillsdale College Churchill Project
Moultonborough, New Hampshire

 

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ric...@langworth.name

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Mar 2, 2021, 2:15:25 PM3/2/21
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Todd Milligan writes: I must confess I was very nervous watching the auction unfold on YouTube, where it can be seen:  
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GXGb87G2y_Q

To see the bidding war start between 11 initial bidders dwindle to the final two, one from Belgium and one from Texas, was nerve wracking. Little hope held out that the US bidder might have thought to bring it to one of the museums stateside were dashed (in my opinion) when Paddle 860 not only won the first work for auction but continued the same success by winning the 'star' of the show and the last, thereby claiming all three WSC paintings on sale. Because Belgium has such high tax rates, it can now be assumed they will end up in Geneva Freeport. One can only guess the Texas bidder was disappointed, like the rest of us. 

What's interesting is that I wrote down last week what I thought it would sell for, considering the significance of it compared to 'Goldfish Pond' which had the previous $2.8million record. My guess was $10million USD! If only money was somewhat plentiful, I would have run the gamut and paid the price ensuring it returned where it belongs. Sadly the chance I feel now is gone. Thank you so much for spending the time to find a successful buyer. We did our best!  

Antoine Capet

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Mar 3, 2021, 4:21:13 AM3/3/21
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Dear Richard,

Many thanks for this.

I followed the link to the YouTube session - but it lasts for over two
hours. Has any List Member any idea when the Churchill bidding begins ?

From what I gather from Todd Milligan's message, the picture(s) went to a
Belgian. How odd ! There are many more billionaires, I should think, in
oil-rich Texas (let alone the USA) than in little Belgium with its ruined
iron and coal industry. Why the picture did not stay in the USA, where it
belongs, escapes me. (And I say that as a convinced European !)

Perhaps we will know one day ...

Best wishes,

A. Capet
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Lee Pollock

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Mar 3, 2021, 9:33:34 AM3/3/21
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As someone who is familiar with this painting (see attached photo of me with it some years ago), I can offer the following information:

1.  It is Lot No. 9 which begins just before the 57:00 mark on the video.

2.  Ms. Jolie purchased it in 2011 for just over $2,000,000 so assuming some seller's commission was paid, her investment multiplied about 4.50 times.  That is impressive but note that the US stock market (with less risk and full liquidity) went up about 3.25 times over the same period while paying cash dividends. (Hers was having the painting to look at every day.)  

3.  While the price is far higher than any previous Churchill sale, the auction house estimates for these have been very low and the uniqueness of this picture make the price less shocking.  Nevertheless, the price of the three of the Churchills that were sold will pull up the value of all the other ones.

4.  The goal of having it available for public display was admirable but it was not realistic to expect institutions such as the FDR Library or the Smithsonian either buy it themselves or have a supporter do so for them.  Their resources are constrained and they prefer to use their donors for their own internal projects.

Of anyone, Hillsdale College might have had the greatest likelihood (and perhaps was even bidding), given its $750 million endowment, prodigious fundraising abilities and devotion to Churchill. The college has a wonderful statue of Churchill and this picture would have been a jewel on the campus. While Churchill is recognized there, FDR is not and it would have been a nice way to acknowledge his importance in American history.  His expansion of the Federal government and reimagining  of its role (mistakenly cast by some today as a harmful "administrative state") was a necessary precursor to America's role in the Second World War and the FDR-Churchill alliance.

But even so, at $11 million+, that might have been too much to expect of them or any other nonprofit institution.

5.  I'm not sure how Todd determined the buyer was Belgian.  The winning bid was put in by Olivier Camu, a Sotheby's Vice Chairman, acting on behalf of a client.  In watching the video, I did not hear any mention of Belgium so if someone else did, please let us know. 

6.  While a Belgian bidder is surprising, there are plenty of rich people in that country and perhaps one is enough of a Churchillian to buy all three of these lots. But I wouldn't obsess or fantasize too much about the paintings ending up in the Geneva Freeport or some other mysterious hideaway.  Private collectors who have the means to buy at these prices are likely to have multiple homes and I expect it will end up in someone's living room.  

7.  But if we're lucky, the identity of the buyer might surface and perhaps they'll lend it to a future Churchill painting exhibit.  When it was sold to Ms. Jolie in 2011, she wasn't identified and it took me some educated guesswork that she might be the buyer; fortunately I knew someone who has advised Brad Pitt on military aspects of his films and that person approached them on our behalf.  They were very courteous and granted our request to lend it to the painting exhibit at the Millennium Gate Museum in Atlanta a few years later.  That might have been the last time it was seen in public before this sale.

8.  Everyone in the Churchill world is anxious to know who acquired it this time as we all want to solicit that person to support our various worthy projects.  We'll see if anyone finds out...

I hope the above is helpful.

Thanks.

Lee Pollock

Lee Pollock Tower Koutoubia Mosque Churchill Painting.jpg

Antoine Capet

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Mar 3, 2021, 12:45:40 PM3/3/21
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Dear Lee,

Many thanks for this magnificently informative message.

First : WOW ! - for the picture with you. When you write " That might have
been the last time it was seen in public before this sale" one could add "
and possibly after this sale" . . .

Re you point 5, here is what The Art Newpaper writes :

This evening, Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque sold to a bidder on the phone
with Christie's Surrealism specialist Olivier Camu, who was spending big on
Churchill—auctioneer Jussi Pylkkänen referred to the bidder as being from
Belgium (Camu is also Belgian-born).

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/winston-churchill-s-painting-of-marrakech-given-to-president-roosevelt-and-being-sold-by-angelina-jolie-sells-for-record-gbp8-2m

Best,

A.C.
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Liam McLoughlin

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Mar 6, 2021, 3:54:39 PM3/6/21
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Looks like it's a good time to cash-in Churchill memorabilia !
Regards
Liam McLoughlin


Antoine Capet

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Mar 7, 2021, 5:45:30 AM3/7/21
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Dear Liam,

Many thanks for drawing List Members' attention to this DT article.

But I was only able to read part of the headline - there is a paywall and
they immediately asked me to subscribe if I wanted to read the article.

I gather it has to do with a newly-found letter by Clementine.

More details would no doubt interest List Members who do not subscribe to
the DT.

With all best wishes,

Antoine CAPET, FRHistS
Professor emeritus of British Studies
University of Rouen
76821 Mont-Saint-Aignan
France
antoin...@univ-rouen.fr

'Britain since 1914' Section Editor
Royal Historical Society Bibliography

Reviews Editor of CERCLES
http://www.cercles.com/review/reviews.html
==========================================

Looks like it's a good time to cash-in Churchill memorabilia !
Regards
Liam McLoughlin


https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/05/clementine-churchill-loved-caricature-prime-minster-husband/




Liam McLoughlin

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Mar 8, 2021, 4:25:22 PM3/8/21
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Hello
Please find text of article attached.
I don't think there are any issues when these articles are for personal use only.
Regards
Liam

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Cartoon.docx

Antoine Capet

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Mar 9, 2021, 12:24:36 PM3/9/21
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Dear Liam,

Many thanks - we will see how much this excellent cartoon fetches !

Current bid : £5,500 :

https://www.sothebys.com/en/buy/auction/2021/made-in-britain/john-gilroy-winston-churchill-together-with-typed

Sale closes 16 March.

Best wishes,

A.C.
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Antoine Capet

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Mar 13, 2021, 5:00:28 AM3/13/21
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Dear All,

Many of you will be familiar with the "old" edition of "Chips" Channon's
Diaries - extensively quoted in all Churchill biographies.

An unexpurgated version is being published in two volumes.

There is a review of vol. 1 in today's Guardian (free access) :

Henry ‘Chips’ Channon review – the celebrated diaries, unredacted
Sex, scandal, kinks and queens … edited by Simon Heffer, these interwar
diaries by the Tory MP are a masterpiece of storytelling and character
assassination

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/mar/13/henry-chips-channon-review-the-celebrated-diaries-unredacted?utm_term=0ee3cdb24ef3f8dabf98243061900167&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayUK&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=GTUK_email


With all best wishes,

Antoine CAPET, FRHistS
Professor emeritus of British Studies
University of Rouen
76821 Mont-Saint-Aignan
France
antoin...@univ-rouen.fr

'Britain since 1914' Section Editor
Royal Historical Society Bibliography

Reviews Editor of CERCLES
http://www.cercles.com/review/reviews.html
==========================================


Antoine Capet

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Mar 18, 2021, 5:52:54 AM3/18/21
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The Churchill College symposium, ???The Racial Consequences of Mr Churchill???,
is vigorously defended in Wednesday's Guardian by its organiser :

Opinion
Winston Churchill
Why can't Britain handle the truth about Winston Churchill?
Priyamvada Gopal*

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/17/why-cant-britain-handle-the-truth-about-winston-churchill?utm_term=41011d9dc358321f193f0ed12cb60778&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayUK&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=GTUK_email

*Professor of Postcolonial Studies in the Faculty of English at the
University of Cambridge, where she is a Fellow of Churchill College.
From 2006 to 2010, she was Dean of Churchill College.

See Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priyamvada_Gopal

May I say that the article contains new accusations that i had never heard
of, like

"In 1911, Churchill banned interracial boxing matches so white fighters
would not be seen losing to black ones" ?

With all best wishes,

Antoine CAPET, FRHistS
Professor emeritus of British Studies
University of Rouen
76821 Mont-Saint-Aignan
France
antoin...@univ-rouen.fr

'Britain since 1914' Section Editor
Royal Historical Society Bibliography

Reviews Editor of CERCLES
http://www.cercles.com/review/reviews.html
==========================================


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Johan Arve

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Mar 18, 2021, 4:50:46 PM3/18/21
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The article expresses the typical quotes out of context. Here, the expression "savages with ideas" that was made several decades after the so-called colour bar was lowered. It also referred to the Mau-Mau who indeed behaved like savages against civiians, and is thus hardly evidence for bigotry against all non-whites.

Best Regards,
Johan Arve


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