Many members may have noticed the large painting King George VI and Family by George Harcourt, which hangs in the Members' Drawing Room, but did you know it was lost for many years before being returned to the club in the early 1990s?
You would be forgiven for thinking that the portrait of a young Princess Elizabeth with her family, smiling benignly down at members as they sit and read the paper, has always been a feature of the Drawing Room at Over-Seas House. However, the portrait was in fact sold during the 1980s, in somewhat unclear circumstances, disappearing from the club for good, or so we thought. It transpires the painting had in fact been sold to the late Peter Langan, renowned restauranteur of Langan's Brasserie fame, for his restaurant in Los Angeles, California.
Some years later, then-Director-General Robert Newell was determined to retrieve the painting and return to its original spot on the wall. By this time, Langan's LA restaurant had closed and the painting was nowhere to be found. So followed a search the length and breadth of the city with the aid of Langan's widow, Susan, herself a ROSL member.
After weeks of enquiry, the painting was found to be languishing in a Hollywood warehouse. Upon discovery, arrangements were immediately made for the painting to be returned to London and within seven days it was reinstated to its original position, where it has remained ever since.
So next time you settle into a sofa in the Drawing Room, you can gaze up at King George VI and Family in the knowledge of the journey this has painting has made to be here, echoing the travels of many of our members to make it to the London clubhouse.