During an auction organized by Christie's house, Winston Churchill's most famous painting sold for 7 million sterling pounds (8.1 million euros) in London.
The price fetched by the painting, which depicts the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh, smashed the pre-sale expectations of 1.7 to 2.8 million euros. The former British prime minister (1874-1965) painted the oil work in 1943, during a visit to Morocco where he attended the Anfa conference held by the allies in Casablanca.
The painting sold by Hollywood star Angelina Jolie "is commonly regarded as the most important painting by Sir Winston Churchill, with its story interwoven into the history of the twentieth century," said art historian Barry Phipps in the Christies catalog.
Churchill gifted his masterpiece to President Franklin Roosevelt but one of the latter's sons sold it in the 1950s. The painting was sold many times until it settled in the house of Angelina Jolie and her husband Brad Pitt in 2011 before their divorce.
The conservative British leader started painting in his forties, but his fondness of the Red City and its lights dates to the 1930s, when Morocco was under the French and Spanish protection. He visited it six times within 23 years to escape London and its political storms.
A photograph taken by a journalist at the time showed Churchill and Roosevelt watching the sunset that inspired the British prime minister in his painting.
During the same auction, two other paintings by Churchill were sold. One of them features a scene from Marrakesh sold for 1.55 million sterling pounds (1.8 million euro) (its pre-sale expected price was 300,000-500,000 sterling pound), and the other depicts the St. Paul's Cathedral in London sold for 880,000 sterling pound (its pre-sale expected price was 200,000-300,000 sterling pounds).