Media Heir Steve Forbes Is Selling His Collection of Winston Churchill Memorabilia

The vast collection includes everything from Churchill's personal desk to a series of rare books inscribed to his professional mentors.

Oil painting of man in suit lounging in chair
A 1943 portrait of Winston Churchill by Arthur Pan. Courtesy Peter Harrington Rare Books

Steve Forbes isn’t just the heir to the Forbes media empire. He’s also one of the world’s most prolific collectors of Winston Churchill memorabilia.

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The chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes and the grandson of the publication’s founder B.C. Forbes first became aware of Churchill through his father, who fought in the Second World War. Forbes, who himself pursued a career in politics as a candidate for the 1996 and 2000 Republican presidential primaries, subsequently became an avid fan of the former U.K. prime minister.

“The man wrote so many memos, letters, articles and books that my quest easily became a lifetime passion,” Forbes once wrote. “Things always led to more things!”

Forbes has previously sold off portions of his Churchill collection, which is considered one of the finest in private hands—in 2010, a Christie’s auction dedicated to his memorabilia realized nearly $850,000. Now, Forbes is bringing more Churchill artifacts to market as he prepares to sell off more than twenty-five items with Peter Harrington, a London-based rare book dealer.

Oil painting of rocky mountains.
Churchill painted The Entrance to the Gorge at Todhra in the winter (1935-1936). Courtesy Peter Harrington Rare Books

The works will be exhibited at the Winter Show fair at the Park Avenue Armory, which will be open tomorrow (Jan. 19) until Jan. 28. Starring in the collection is Churchill’s personal desk from his Hyde Park Gate home. Priced at $450,000, it was where he worked on titles like The Second World War and History of the English-Speaking Peoples.

Meanwhile, an oil portrait of Churchill painted in 1943 by artist Arthur Pan is being offered for $125,000. Much of the portrait had to be created from Pan’s memory, as Churchill was a “very difficult” sitter who couldn’t stay still long, recalled the painter in a 1945 interview.

Another painting in Forbes’s collection was created by Churchill himself. Depicting a gorge in the eastern Atlas Mountains in Morocco, Churchill painted the image in the winter of 1935. It has been passed down through the Churchill family throughout the years and has a price tag of $395,000.

A treasure trove of Churchill’s writings

Forbes has also accumulated numerous books and letters by Churchill, including a trove of proof copies, typescripts and research materials for his Second World War series. Containing Churchill’s own corrections, the documents will be offered up for $750,000.

Other writings from Churchill include an archive of correspondence from 1916 when he served in the trenches on the Western Front. Sent to power broker Edward Carson, the letters are priced at $75,000 and lay out his plans to return to politics and remove Prime Minister H.H. Asquith from power.

Group of old books standing next to each other
Typescripts of Churchill’s account of the Second World War are up for sale. Courtesy Peter Harrington Rare Books

Forbes will additionally offer up a series of more personal items, including a photograph depicting Churchill and his wife Clementine facing each other over newspapers. Signed by the couple, the image was released to mark their golden wedding anniversary in September of 1958.

The sale also includes books written by Churchill and inscribed to personal and professional figures in his life. A copy of Into Battle, for example, is inscribed with a letter to Pamela Plowden, Churchill’s first love, and is priced at $12,500, while a copy of Churchill’s The Story of the Malakand Field Force inscribed to his valet Thomas Walden is being offered for $47,500.

Meanwhile, Churchill’s first novel Savrola contains an inscription to his military mentor Ian Hamilton and was gifted while the two men were serving in the Second Boer War. It is also priced at $47,500.

“This remarkable collection is… one of the most significant collections we have handled in more than 50 years as rare book sellers,” said Pom Harrington, owner of Peter Harrington, in a statement. “It is a real testament to what a private collector can achieve through combining multi-decade perseverance with the ability to grasp every opportunity to acquire exceptional material.”

Media Heir Steve Forbes Is Selling His Collection of Winston Churchill Memorabilia