Churchill painting of Onassis superyacht to be auctioned in New York, World News


A work of art that unites one of the great statesmen of the 20th century, an icon of the jet set and the world’s first “superyacht” will go under the hammer in New York’s Phillips auction house on June 23.

“The Moat, Breccles,” a 1921 oil landscape signed by Winston Churchill, is valued by Phillips at $ 1.5 million to $ 2 million, a far cry from the $ 11.6 million that any other painting by the British Prime Minister would wartime, sold by Angelina Jolie at Christie’s last March.

But even if it doesn’t break records, this landscape – which Churchill mentioned in a December 1921 essay entitled “Painting as a Pastime” – could appeal to both history and celebrity fans.

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Churchill kept the painting for 40 years before offering it to his friend, Greek shipowner Aristotle Onassis, in 1961, four years before his death, Phillips vice chairman Jean-Paul Engelen told AFP.

The tycoon was so proud of his gift that he hung it in a place of honor behind the bar of his yacht alongside works by Vermeer, Gauguin, Le Greco and Pissarro.

Jean Paul Engelen, vice chairman and global co-director for 20th Century and Contemporary Art at Phillips Auction House, speaks alongside the painting “The Moat, Breccles” by Winston Churchill and owned by the Onassis family. Image credit: AFP

This superyacht, named “Christina” after Onassis’ daughter, was a former frigate of the Canadian Navy, almost 100 meters long. It was part of the Normandy landing before Onassis bought the ship for $ 34,000 after the war.

Onassis had it renovated for $ 4 million, making it “one of the most incredible structures to swim,” Engelen said.

It was a popular hangout for the rich and famous including Elizabeth Taylor, John F. and Jackie Kennedy, Richard Burton, Grace Kelly, J. Paul Getty, Eva Peron, and others.

When Onassis died in 1975, seven years after his marriage to Jackie Kennedy, the yacht was sold and everything on board was stored until his heirs recently decided to part with the painting.

To spark interest in the silver screen, Phillips recreated the bar in the “Christina” – known as Ari’s Bar – in his New York showroom, including facsimiles of his famous whale teeth, and filled the shelves with Pol Roger champagne, Churchill’s favorite bubbly.


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