A letter replaced the famous portrait of Winston Churchill at the Château Laurier in Ottawa.
< p class="e-p">The famous portrait of Winston Churchill that was stolen from one of the salons of the Château Laurier in Ottawa was allegedly stolen sometime between Christmas of last year and January 6.
The hotel appealed to the public on Monday to gather information to help solve the mystery of the disappearance of the original photo, three days after employees noticed that the picture was not hung properly. Further examination confirmed that the hanging portrait was in fact a copy.
Photos taken by guests inside the hotel's reading lounge show the original was still hanging on December 25, but a photo taken just 12 days later indicates that ;it had then been replaced by the copy.
The famous photo was taken in December 1941 by photographer Yousuf Karsh during Churchill's visit to the Canadian Parliament.
Mr. Karsh lived at the Château Laurier and set up his studio there for almost 20 years. A collection of 15 of his portraits, all hanging on the walls, is on display in the Reading Lounge and the Karsh Suite.
According to hotel General Manager Geneviève Dumas , you have to use special tools to remove the frame, so the thief knew what he was doing.
“This is a professional, that's for sure. I walk past this frame every day and show it to guests. I could never tell it was a copy. »
— Geneviève Dumas, General Manager of Château Laurier
The photographer's estate was able to confirm that the frame and signature on the recently hung portrait were not original.
The portrait, featuring Churchill looking straight at the camera, helped launch Mr. Karsh's career.
The photographer said he waited after the then British Prime Minister's electrifying speech to the House of Commons to take a picture, but Churchill grumbled that he hadn't been told.
The prime minister refused to put his cigar down – and it was what happened next that made the famous pose immortal.
I took a step towards him and, without premeditation, but with great respect, I said to him, “Pardon me, sir”, and I snatched the cigar from his mouth, explains the photographer in a passage on his website.
By the time I got back to my camera, he looked so aggressive he could have eaten me. That's when I took the photo.
Winston Churchill, by Yousuf Karsh (1941)
The portrait was added to the British five pound note in 2016, 14 years after the photographer's death.
Château Laurier hopes to receive even more photos in order to pinpoint more precisely the moment of the theft, which could help investigators determine how the portrait was stolen and by whom.< /p>
At the time of the flight, the hotel was relatively unoccupied due to health restrictions imposed to curb the wave of the pandemic fueled by the Omicron variant.
Ms. Dumas therefore invited people who stayed at the Château Laurier or who visited it during these 12 days to send all the photos they have of the Reading Lounge.
She also asks all potential buyers to be on the lookout.
If anyone has tried to sell a picture of Winston Chu rchill, it might be ours.