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Winston Churchill painting sells for over ₦761 million

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A painting by wartime British Prime Minister Winston Churchill sold for $1.85 million (approximately ₦761,275,000 according to Google exchange rates) at a Phillips auction in New York on Wednesday. The painting was gifted to Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.

“The Moat, Breccles” is a signed 1921 oil landscape. It went within its pre-sale estimate price of between $1.5 million and $2 million.

The sale was, however, far less than the $11.6 million netted by another Churchill painting. Actress Angelina Jolie sold it at Christie’s last March.

Despite failing to shatter records, the landscape appealed to both history and celebrity buffs. Churchill mentioned it in a December 1921 essay titled Painting as a Pastime.

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Churchill kept the painting for 40 years before offering it in 1961 to his friend Onassis. He died four years later.

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

This superyacht, named “Christina” after Onassis’s daughter, was a former Canadian Navy frigate, nearly 100 meters long. It had been a part of the Normandy landings before Onassis bought the ship post-war for $34,000.

Onassis had it lavishly renovated to the tune of $4 million. This made it “one of the most incredible structures that floated,” Phillips Deputy Chairman Jean-Paul Engelen told AFP.

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

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

To spur interest in the canvas, Phillips recreated the bar on the “Christina” — known as Ari’s Bar — in its New York showroom. This includes facsimiles of its famous whale teeth. Phillips also filled the shelves with Pol Roger champagne, Churchill’s preferred bubbly.

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