£100,000? £250,000? £700,000? £1 million? Churchill’s paintings can now command a considerable sale price, particularly if they have impeccable provenance (as in the case of the painting given to Truman). The Truman gift, ‘Marrakech’, (according to the auction house, Sotheby’s, ‘arguably superior’ to ‘View of Tinherir’ ‘in both composition and provenance’) was sold in December 2007 with a guide price of £300, 000–£500,000, achieving £468,700.
At the time of the sale, the Sotheby’s specialist in twentieth century British art said: ‘The rise of Churchill through the art market over the past few years has been remarkable and we are thrilled to be bringing another of his most important and accomplished works to the saleroom at a time when interest in his amazing ‘pastime’ is stronger than ever … ‘Marrakech’ … is a superb example of Churchill at his very best’ (Art Daily). (The less ‘superior’ painting entitled ‘View of Tinherir’ given by Churchill in 1953 as a gift to US General George Marshall, was sold at auction in 2006 by his granddaughter, for £612,800. It had been expected to fetch about £250,000.) A July 2007 auction saw a record £1,000,000 for a Churchill painting, ‘Chartwell Landscape with Sheep’, originally presented to Clare Booth Luce.
‘The Tower of Katoubia Mosque’, presented to Roosevelt, had a rather more complicated provenance than the similar ‘Marrakech’ painting. It passed to Roosevelt’s son on his death and he then sold it in 1950 to a Nebraska collector. The collector sold it on to the author, movie producer, financier and art collector Norman G. Hickman, who had served as associate producer of the Churchill-themed film The Finest Hours in 1964. While in his possession, ‘The Tower of Katoubia Mosque’ was exhibited at the New York Daily News building in January 1965 and later at the Churchill Memorial in Fulton, Missouri during 1970. On Hickman’s death, it passed to his second wife and then to her daughter, where it was stored in a closet for fifteen years! It was eventually acquired by a New Orleans antiques dealer in ………. and was put up for sale with a guide price of just under $3 million.