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Rediff.com  » News » Case of the missing Churchill bust: 'It's just a myth'

Case of the missing Churchill bust: 'It's just a myth'

July 31, 2012 09:35 IST

The White House has refuted the story circulating around, that United States President Barack Obama has returned the bust of Winston Churchill to the United Kingdom, saying, it is a myth.

"It is almost like a bad Sherlock Holmes script, right? The Case of the Missing Winston Churchill Bust," the White House Deputy Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, told reporters at his daily news conference.

"There is a myth floating in some of the darker corners of the Internet that suggests that upon taking office, the President went out of his way to snub the British people by prematurely returning the bust of Winston Churchill that had occupied a prominent place in the Oval Office under the previous President. That's not true," Earnest clarified.

The bust, he said, was loaned to the previous President George W Bush by the British government.

"As is customary, at the conclusion of President Bush's term and before President Obama entered the Oval Office, the bust was returned to the British embassy," he noted.

"What has not changed are two things: One, the President's priority and value that the President places on our special relationship with the United Kingdom, and two, the location of the prominently placed Winston Churchill bust in the White House residence," he said.

A picture of this was posted on the White House website in which Obama was showing off the Churchill bust to Prime Minister David Cameron when he visited the US in March.

"Have we settled the case of the missing Winston Churchill bust?  I hope so," he said.

Following a news story in this regard last week, Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee had said in London that if voted to power in the November elections, he would bring back the bust to the Oval office of the White House.

"I'm looking forward to the bust of Winston Churchill being in the Oval Office again," Romney told a crowd of about 250 people at a Thursday evening fundraiser at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel following a day of meetings with current and former British leaders.

In a blog the Dan Pfeiffer, a top Obama advisor said, the White House has had a bust of Winston Churchill since the 1960's.

"At the start of the Bush administration Prime Minister Blair lent President Bush a bust that matched the one in the White House, which was being worked on at the time and was later returned to the residence.

The version lent by Prime Minister Blair was displayed by President Bush until the end of his Presidency," he wrote.

"On January 20, 2009 -- Inauguration Day -- all of the art lent specifically for President Bush's Oval Office was removed by the curator's office, as is common practice at the end of every presidency. The original Churchill bust remained on display in the residence," he wrote.

"The idea put forward by (Washington Post's) Charles Krauthammer and others that President Obama returned the Churchill bust or refused to display the bust because of antipathy towards the British is completely false and an urban legend that continues to circulate to this day," Pfeiffer added.

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