The Fairmont Chateau Lorier hotel called police after finding that the photo of the former British prime minister was bent and framed differently from another portrait presented by Canadian-Armenian-born photographer Yousuf Karsh.
The “Roaring Lion” portrait, as Karsh baptized him, was made after Churchill addressed the Canadian Parliament in 1941, and soon became a symbol of British resistance during World War II.
As speculation about the theft grows, former hotel guests are sharing portraits of them so they can find out the actual date of their disappearance, possibly between December 25, 2021 and January 6, 2022.
“Someone might want the photo for their personal collection or for sale. I don’t know,” said AFP’s Genevieve Dumas, managing director of the hotel.
Although the portrait’s value is estimated at $100,000, Dumas assures it is priceless.
After fleeing the Armenian genocide, Karsh and his wife settled in Canada and lived in hotels for 18 years. Karsh has also photographed other personalities such as Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway and Queen Elizabeth II.
According to historical records, Karsh pulled a cigar from Churchill’s mouth just before taking the portrait, which explains the grim expression of the Prime Minister at the time in the iconic photo.
“Coffee aficionado nerd. Troublemaker. General communicator. Gamer. Analyst. Creator. Total brew ninja.”