Famous Churchill portrait swapped with copy in Ottawa hotel, staff doesn’t notice for months
A famous portrait of World War II-era British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was stolen from an Ottawa hotel and replaced with a copy without staff noticing for months.
Last weekend, hotel employees noticed the photograph was hung improperly, and the frame didn’t match the others in the space, CTV reported. Hotel officials then used photos sent in by the public to help establish when the original portrait and frame was switched out.
The Chateau Laurier Hotel’s marketing director told CNN an investigation into the portrait’s disappearance is ongoing.
“So usually when a situation like this occurs, it’s not a shoplifting, it’s not just a burglary; it’s someone from the inside who had access, who knew what they were looking for, knew what the security measures were that were protecting the piece and that (they) were able to defeat those measures because they had inside information,” Wittman told CTV.
The beloved black and white photograph captures Churchill scowling moments after Karsh plucked a cigar from the prime minister’s mouth to snap the shot.
“His association with the hotel was very deep and very warm,” Jerry Fielder, the director of Karsh’s estate, told CTV. “This was a very special print to him, and it was a really beautiful print. So it does have very special significance.”
The Fairmont Château Laurier urged anyone with information on the stolen photograph to immediately contact local authorities.