Diageo backtracks on sale of £10m painting

Diageo has agreed to gift more than half the value of one of Scotland’s most important paintings to the National Galleries of Scotland, rather than sell it at auction for an estimated £10 million and risk it being taken out of the country.


“Monarch of the Glen”, painted by Sir Edwin Landseer in 1851

“Monarch of the Glen” was painted by by Sir Edwin Landseer in 1851 and depicts a stag atop a misty mountain top, which has become synonymous with Scottish heritage and culture.

The artwork was acquired by Sir Thomas Dewar, the family behind Dewar’s whisky, from the soap company Pears in 1916, and eventually fell into Diageo’s possession following a series of mergers and acquisitions. For the past 17 years, it has been on loan from Diageo to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

The whisky maker had planned to sell the iconic “Monarch of the Glen” painting at auction at Christie’s next month, with an estimated value of £10 million, as it continues to sell off assets that are not core to its spirits and Guinness beer business. Other disposals include have included Gleneagles, the luxury Scottish hotel and golf resort, and its wine business.

However following public outcry that the painting could be taken out of Scotland, Diageo has instead decided to offer the painting at less that half of its estimated value to the National Galleries of Scotland.

The National Galleries of Scotland has now launched a fundraising campaign to raise the £4 million in order to take the painting into its collection and ensure it remains in Scotland.

“This superb painting was purchased from Christie’s in 1916, and it is fitting exactly 100 years later in our 250th year it has the opportunity to find its permanent home in the National Galleries of Scotland,” said Jussi Pylkkanen, global president of Christie’s.

If the fundraising campaign is successful, the painting pass from private to public hands for the first time since it was painted 165 years ago.

“The Monarch of the Glen is an iconic image which is famous across the world,” said Leighton. “The ideal home for such an important and resonant picture is the Scottish National Gallery, where it can be enjoyed and admired by millions of visitors in the context of the nation’s unrivalled collection of Scottish, British and European art.”

One Response to “Diageo backtracks on sale of £10m painting”

  1. James says:

    Good on them – great decision

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