Churchill Bust Mystery Solved: There Are Two Of Them!

Jake Tapper at ABCNews adds a new twist to the mystery of the bust of Winston Churchill:

Like a plot twist in a sitcom, IT TURNS OUT THERE ARE TWO CHURCHILL BUSTS!!!!!

The one in the White House Residence was a gift to the White House from the British Embassy during the Nixon administration.

The other one was loaned to President George W. Bush by British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Says James Barbour, Press Secretary and Head of Communications for the British Embassy, “The bust of Sir Winston Churchill, by Sir Jacob Epstein, was lent to the George W Bush administration from the UK’s Government Art Collection, for the duration of the Presidency. When that administration came to an end so did the loan; the bust now resides in the British Ambassador’s Residence in Washington DC. The White House collection has its own Epstein bust of Churchill, which President Obama showed to Prime Minister Cameron when he visited the White House in March”

That other Churchill bust dates back to the Nixon administration, it turns out.

“That’s not really what’s important here,” Barbour said. “Both President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron have repeatedly underlined that our two countries remain the closest of allies. The Churchill Bust story is a silly diversion – let’s get on and focus on seeing who wins most medals in the Olympics.”

First, let’s concentrate on the highlighted text. Tony Blair loaned a work of art from the UK’s official collection to the United States, with the understanding that it would be in the White House for the duration of the Bush Presidency. This means that Barack Obama didn’t toss out the bust, it was required to be returned to the British under previous agreements. There’s another bust of Churchill in the residence that has been there for at least the last 40 years.

Is everyone happy now? Can we get back to talking about crap that matters? And can I officially say that this has been the stupidest political meme I’ve ever seen?

FILED UNDER: The Presidency, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Scott says:

    No, no, no, no ,no. We must focus on the crap! Besides it’s Friday and happy hour

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Are you telling me that Obama bowed to foreign pressure and gave up a treasured American heirloom as part of his endless apology tour?

    You know what was hidden inside that bust? Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate, that’s what!

  3. MM says:

    This is pretty stupid, but it doesn’t quite compare to mustard choices or jean styles, yet.

  4. Tillman says:

    Who loans a bust?

    A book, maybe, but a bust?

    Frickin’ British people.

  5. Eric says:

    What a twist! Dun DUN DUUNNNN!

  6. sam says:

    Yeah, that whole Churchill bust thing is the kind of nonsense we ought not to up with put.

  7. de stijl says:

    Apparently, the WH picture straightener took that week off.

    Also, why did the sculptor choose to depict a pustulent Churchill? Doesn’t seem very reverent.

  8. Ernieyeball says:

    Says James Barbour,..Head of Communications for the British Embassy, “The bust of Sir Winston Churchill,..

    …this is code for something…

  9. DRS says:

    Sam wins the thread. Well played, sir.

  10. Moosebreath says:

    Churchill preferred to call them “white meat”.

  11. Ron Beasley says:

    Larison has a good post up on the conservatives misplaced worship of Churchill.

    They understand Churchill almost entirely in terms of his career during and after WWII with little or no awareness of his earlier unattractive political career. There is probably no other 20th century foreign politician who receives so much undeserved admiration from Republicans as Churchill does.

  12. Scott O says:

    Well, if the loan period hadn’t ended when Bush left office we know Obama would have returned the bust anyway. So he’s still a commie.

  13. James H says:

    If it’s all resolved, that means that the bust story boom can end.

  14. de stijl says:

    @James H:

    Except for British tabloids, which will continue to uncover the bust story on page 3.

  15. James H says:

    See, this is why President Clinton was better than both Bush and Obama. He was strongly committed to keeping busts in the White House.

  16. labman57 says:

    The issue is whether the bust was returned as an act of disrespect to Britain and Churchill’s memory, as Romney and the right wing blogosphere has alleged.

    In fact, no. It was ON LOAN to the Bush Administration, with the explicit understanding that it would be returned at the end of his term … which is exactly what happened.

    Had the Obama Administration failed to send the bust back to the UK when he took office, these same self-serving conservative pundits and politicians would no doubt indignantly wag their fingers and proclaim that Obama was a thief for keeping the loaned Churchill bust.

  17. atonyc says:

    Yea, I think this was more of a “Here, can you guys hold on to this POS for a few years? We really don’t like the expression on it.” situation.