A Larger-Than-Life Portrait of Margaret Thatcher Could Be Sold to a Kuwaiti Buyer

Will the UK step up to the plate?

Margaret Thatcher.
Image: Courtesy www.thatchercentre.com.

A massive portrait of Margaret Thatcher painted by artist Michael Noakes, could be headed to a private collection in the Middle East, according to the Telegraph.

Noakes, who is a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, was also a close friend of the former British prime minister. He gave her a private viewing of the work in his garden in London in 1996, six years after she had resigned from office.

The large work —which stands over 12-feet tall—shows Thatcher in a crisp blue suit, standing just outside the open door of 10 Downing Street with her arm half-raised as though she is about to shake someone’s hand.

Thatcher reportedly called the work “sheer genius” after the viewing and thanked Noakes with a letter saying:

“Last evening was a wonderful occasion for us. The portrait on the steps of No 10 exceeded all my expectations. It was so realistic. Your idea was sheer genius and it has succeeded.

We must get more people to see it so that a permanent home worthy of your great talents may be found.”

For the past 25 years, the work has been in a storage space maintained by Noakes. Now it may be sold to a buyer outside the UK, which the story says poses “a grave risk” that it will be “lost to the British nation for ever.” The artist told the paper he had had interest expressed by a businessman in Kuwait but that he would rather the painting remain in Britain if a buyer could be found there.

artnet News reached out to Noakes for details but has not heard back as of publication time.

Though no firm value had been affixed to the hefty artwork, a previous Thatcher portrait he painted sold at a Conservative Party fund-raising auction for £440,000 ($670,000). But auction results for Noakes’s work are considerably lower; according to the artnet Price Database, a buyer paid just under $400 for his portrait of Sir Christopher Benson.


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