An oil painting by Winston Churchill made in 1921 that was long thought to be lost is now coming to auction. Five decades ago, the statesman originally gifted it to Greek shipping magnate and Jackie Kennedy’s second husband, Aristotle Onassis, who displayed it on his yacht known as the Christina. The heirs of Onassis will now part ways with the work at a Phillips modern and contemporary art evening sale on June 23 in New York, where the painting, titled The Moat, Breccles, is expected to fetch $1.5 million-$2 million.
Churchill and Onassis met through the statesman’s son, Randolph, and forged a years-long friendship. The shipping magnate was one of several high-profile friends to whom the politician gave his still life and landscape paintings. Churchill first mentioned The Moat, Breccles in his essay “Painting as a Pastime,” published in the Strand Magazine in December 1921.
Recently, Churchill paintings have seen success on the market. In Christie’s British modern art sale held in London this March, one buyer purchased three paintings by the former Prime Minister for a total of £11.2 million ($16 million). Among those works was a painting of a North African mosque that was being sold by Angelina Jolie that sold for a triple-estimate £8.3 million ($11.6 million), setting a record. Churchill’s previous record was the $2.7 million paid in 2014 at Sotheby’s London for The Goldfish Pool at Chartwell (1932).
To promote The Moat, Breccles, Phillips plans to display it alongside a replica of Onassis’s yacht bar, which was frequented by high society guests such as John D. Rockefeller, Eva Peron, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe. The installation will open on June 15 at the auction house’s new Park Avenue headquarters.