A painting by wartime British Prime Minister Winston Churchill that was gifted to Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis sold for $1.85 million at a Phillips auction in New York on Wednesday.
The Moat, Breccles,” a signed 1921 oil landscape, went for within its pre-sale estimate price of between $1.5 million and $2 million.
The sale was far less than the $11.6 million netted by another Churchill painting sold by Angelina Jolie at Christie’s last March.
Despite failing to shatter records, the landscape which Churchill mentioned in a December 1921 essay titled “Painting as a Pastime” — appealed to both history and celebrity buffs.
Churchill kept the painting for 40 years before offering it in 1961, four years before his death, to his friend Onassis.
The tycoon was so proud of his gift that he hung it in a place of honour — behind the bar of his yacht — alongside works by Vermeer, Gauguin, El Greco and Pissarro.
After Onassis’s daughter, this superyacht named “Christina” 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.
The Christina’s fame and allure as the original “superyacht” owes itself to such illustrious and glamorous guests as Maria Callas, The Begum of Aga Kahn, John Paul Getty, John D Rockefeller, Eva Peron, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Rudolf Nureyev, John Wayne, Greta Garbo, Dame Margot Fonteyn, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace, and John F Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy, later Jackie Onassis, whom first met Churchill on the Christina.
When Aristotle Onassis died in 1975, seven years after his marriage to Jackie Kennedy, the yacht was sold and everything on board placed in storage until his heirs recently decided to part with the painting.