SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: War hero Monty’s family sells Winston Churchill oil painting for £1.55m 

Between them they forged the alliance which saw Britain through her darkest hours. But the bond between Winston Churchill and Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery now appears to count for little.

For, in a move which has startled acquaintances, Monty’s family has disposed of an oil painting by Churchill which he gave to his greatest wartime commander as a symbol of his ‘deep respect and friendship’.

Entitled Scene At Marrakech, it sold at Christie’s for £1.55 million — which would have been a record for a painting by Churchill, had it not been for the sale, on the same night, of a Churchill painting owned by actress Angelina Jolie, which fetched an extraordinary £8.3 million.

Scene At Marrakech by Sir Winston Churchill – which sold at Christie’s for £1.55 million

Jolie’s canvas — another of Churchill’s Moroccan oil paintings — was given by the PM to U.S. President Franklin D Roosevelt, but had been sold by Roosevelt’s son, Elliot, as early as 1950.

In 2011, it was bought by the Hollywood star Brad Pitt, who later married and divorced Jolie.

By contrast, Scene At Marrakech took pride of place at the London home of the Field Marshal’s son, David, and his second wife, Tessa.

‘It was in the study,’ remembers a friend from overseas. But David, who succeeded his father as 2nd Viscount Montgomery of El Alamein in 1976, died a year ago aged 91.

Then Prime Minister Winston Churchill visits Caen, Normandy, 22 July 1944, as General Sir Bernard Montgomery indicates positions on a map held by the Commander of the 2nd Canadian Division, General G G Symonds

Then Prime Minister Winston Churchill visits Caen, Normandy, 22 July 1944, as General Sir Bernard Montgomery indicates positions on a map held by the Commander of the 2nd Canadian Division, General G G Symonds

Thereafter, the painting’s days appear to have been numbered.

‘I don’t think that David’s two children by his first wife, Henry and Arabella, particularly liked the painting; I don’t think they thought it was particularly good.’


More from Sebastian Shakespeare for the Daily Mail…

Its removal from the study was evidently none of Lady Montgomery’s doing.

‘I wasn’t aware of the sale,’ she tells me. ‘It wasn’t my picture.’

Alerted to the price it fetched at auction, Tessa Montgomery expresses her ‘surprise’.

Its departure from the family does, of course, deliver a significant financial boost.

David Montgomery left £6 million in his will — and his son Henry’s late wife Caroline was the sister of controversial hedge fund tycoon Crispin Odey.

‘I’ve heard that Crispin was generous to them,’ says the friend. ‘But this gives them something extra with which to help their children.’

The man who really put Liz hurley in ‘that’ dress  

Elizabeth Hurley wearing Versace's iconic 'safety-pin dress', pictured with Hugh Grant

Elizabeth Hurley wearing Versace’s iconic ‘safety-pin dress’, pictured with Hugh Grant

Elizabeth Hurley has always claimed Versace’s iconic ‘safety-pin dress’ that she wore to the Four Weddings premiere was something she just ‘fished out of a plastic bag’.

But now Versace’s then head of womenswear, Dean Aslett, has come forward with a rather different version of events. He says Hurley’s then boyfriend, Hugh Grant, rang him to ask if Versace could supply her with a free frock.

‘Mr Grant and Ms Hurley came to the Versace store,’ Aslett says.

‘No dress was sent to them. We would not have lent a dress to anyone we did not know.’

Years later, he met Hurley again. ‘She asked me: ‘I recognise you, where do I know you from?’ So I told her ‘I was the one who put her in that dress’ all those years ago.

‘All I got back was stony silence. Liz, at the very least, needed to give me a big hug for what I had done for her and her career.’

Garry Richardson, who tomorrow celebrates 40 years of presenting sport on Radio 4’s Today programme, says his career highpoint was grabbing a live chat with U.S. President Bill Clinton during a Wimbledon rain delay. ‘Just before I went on air, I called my wife and said, ‘Get the children, call the family, I’m about to speak to someone very special live on TV. Don’t miss it.’ Clinton gave me 15 minutes and answered everything. Afterwards, I said to my nine-year-old daughter: ‘Did you watch it? Was it good?’ She said: ‘Hmm. Dad, I thought you were going to interview Robbie Williams.’

The Duchess of Cambridge’s favourite handbag designer, Anya Hindmarch, claims women should not wear flashy designer logos if they want to look classy. ‘I don’t like bags for status, or bags for ‘Look at me, I’m so wealthy’,’ she says. ‘What I like are things that are more discreet, that’s what’s exciting — not ‘Look at me, I’m wearing this brand.’ 

Serena goes on a sparkling date… 

Wimbledon champion Serena Williams is enjoying an added sparkle to her life, thanks to the skilful hands of her husband, tech millionaire Alexis Ohanian.

The Reddit co-founder, with whom Serena has a three-year-old daughter, reveals he designed a necklace for the tennis star, 39, which she subsequently wore on their date night.

Ohanian, 37, shared a picture of his wife wearing it and declared: ‘I proudly designed Serena’s necklace. Backup career if this tech-thing doesn’t work out.’

 £100,000 — that’s a figure of speech for Theresa May 

Theresa May’s unlikely new sideline as a public speaker is proving highly lucrative.

The former prime minister, whose speech to the Tory Party conference in 2017 was memorably disastrous, has just revealed she’s pocketed more than £100,000 for three addresses — one of which she’s not yet even delivered.

The latest firm to put Mrs May on the payroll is the World 50 Inc group, an ultra-exclusive organisation which runs private peer membership groups for mega-rich executives.

The parliamentary register of MPs’ financial interests reveals how Mrs May has received a staggering £1.1 million since December 2019.

In many cases she hasn’t even had to leave home — delivering the speeches remotely via Zoom.

 Actress Billie Piper admits she misses being able to booze all day long. ‘When people ask what do you miss about not having kids and being free, it’s those spontaneous pub days,’ says the 38-year-old, who has two sons with her ex, Laurence Fox, and a daughter with her partner, singer Johnny Lloyd. ‘Where you’re like, ‘I’m going to stay for eight hours and that’s it.’ There’s no ‘you’re a bad person’ if you do that. There’s no guilt. And there is really no down side to it apart from maybe a hangover.’

Why Lady C’s vowing to run the extra mile 

Keeping fit is a full-time occupation for Lady Clara Paget, the actress daughter of the Marquess of Anglesey, as she will be running 150km this month — owing to a typing error.

The Fast & Furious star, 32, signed up to raise £1,000 for The Lady Garden Foundation — a women’s health charity headed by Chloe Delevingne, sister of supermodel Cara — but accidentally pledged to cover a much greater distance than intended.

‘It was meant to be 100km, but I accidentally set it as 150km,’ says Lady Clara, who lives in North-West London with her Burberry model fiance, Oscar Tuttiett.

‘So I’ve managed to set myself an even tougher challenge. Please be generous in light of my stupidity.’

‘Queen of taupe’ Kelly escapes to the country 

She’s decorated the homes of David and Victoria Beckham and Sir Elton John, and now the ‘queen of taupe’ Kelly Hoppen is moving on to greener pastures herself.

The interior designer, 61, is selling the £12 million London house that she co-owns with her long-term partner, retired businessman John Gardiner, because they are spending more time out in Oxfordshire.

‘The only reason we are selling it is because it is too big. We have a place in the country and are spending more time here,’ explains Kelly, exwife of Hollywood star Sienna Miller’s father, Ed Hoppen bought the 7,000-sq ft former warehouse in 2015 and rebuilt the semi-derelict property to include six bedrooms and six bathrooms, with everything featuring her signature neutral colour palette.

But it’s the walk-in closet she’ll miss the most. ‘No boys, no football talk, just total girly time.’

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