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Iconic Sir Winston Churchill photograph stolen from Chateau Laurier, replaced with copy

An iconic photograph of Sir Winston Churchill appears to have been stolen from Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier hotel and replaced with a copy.

The photo of Churchill by Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh, taken in December 1941 on Parliament Hill, is among the most famous photos ever taken of the British prime minister.

“We are deeply saddened by this brazen act,” Geneviève Dumas, the Chateau Laurier’s general manager, said in a news release. “The hotel is incredibly proud to house this stunning Karsh collection, which was securely installed in 1998.”

The photo of Churchill, known as ‘The Roaring Lion,’ was taken after the then-British prime minister delivered a speech about the Second World War to Canada’s Parliament.

The photo is known for Churchill’s resolute expression and posture, which many saw as a reflection of wartime feelings in Britain at the time—taking a stand against the encroaching threat of Nazism.

Karsh famously took Churchill’s cigar from him just before the photo session, which led the prime minister to scowl at the camera.

Over the weekend, hotel officials noticed the photograph was not hung properly. They then discovered the portrait’s frame did not match the other Karsh frames that are hung in the hotel’s reading lounge.

“Upon further investigation, and a confirmation from the Estate of Yousuf Karsh, it was found that the Winston Churchill photograph was replaced with a copy of the original,” the hotel said in statement.

“As a precautionary measure, the remaining photographs located in the Reading Lounge have been removed until they can be secured properly.”

The hotel statement asks anyone with information to share it with local authorities.

Ottawa police said they received a complaint about the theft of the photograph on Saturday.

“The Ottawa Police Service received a complaint on August 20th about the theft of an original photograph of Winston Churchill,” police said in a statement, adding that they have launched an investigation.

Karsh and his wife Estrellita lived for nearly two decades at the Chateau Laurier, and he operated his studio from the hotel from 1972 to 1992. His professional signature was “Karsh of Ottawa.”

He has been described as one of the 20th century’s greatest portrait photographers. Top Stories

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