A portrait of Winston Churchill stolen from an Ottawa hotel and replaced with a fake

Until last week, “Roaring Lion,” a famous photograph of scowling Winston Churchill, sat on display for decades at Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier hotel. But a hotel employee recently noticed that the frame of the portrait no longer matched that of the five other Yousuf Karsh photographs on display. Karsh’s estate overseer, Jerry Fielder, confirmed the signature was forged: This image was a fake. Ottawa police are currently investigating the robbery. The portrait, which appeared on Britain’s five-pound note in 2016, has only gained in value since the 1990s, when negatives of Karsh’s work were donated to Library and Archives Canada. No printing is allowed. Karsh is an acclaimed Armenian-Canadian portrait painter who has lived in the hotel for nearly two decades; he held his first exhibition in 1936 and his studio on the sixth floor until 1992. During Karsh’s career, his subjects included Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Jr., Queen Elizabeth, and Ernest Hemingway. He met Churchill in 1941 after the British Prime Minister’s speech to the Canadian Parliament. When Karsh asked to do a portrait, he remembered Churchill asking, “Why didn’t they tell me?”

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