Winston Churchill's artifacts on sale
Winston Churchill’s personal desk and a portrait of the late British leader by Arthur Pan, part of the Winston S. Churchill Collection Of Steve Forbes, at the Winter Show in New York City on January 18, 2024. AFP

A treasure trove of Winston Churchill's possessions including his desk, a holiday painting from a trip to Morocco, and a copy of his first book go on sale in New York on Thursday.

An imposing portrait of the British wartime leader by Hungarian artist Arthur Pan, sold at the height of the Second World War in 1943 to fundraise for Clementine Churchill's Aid to Russia Fund, is listed for $125,000.

The pieces, are on sale at the Winter Show art, antiques and design fair in New York until January 28, were acquired from the heir to the Forbes media fortune Steve Forbes.

"We've bought the highlights, we have papers, letters and we also have the desk and the painting -- crown jewel stuff," rare books dealer Pom Harrington told AFP.

Harrington said the cigar-smoking former prime minister had an enduring appeal in the United States.

"He's a war hero -- he was the underdog," he said. "We'll have plenty of customers in America."

Churchill was born to a mother from the United States and a British father and went on to receive honorary US citizenship.

His 1935 oil study of "The Entrance to the Gorge at Todhra" near Marrakesh in Morocco has an asking price of $395,000.

"If it weren't for painting, I could not live; I could not bear the strain of things," Churchill famously once said.

The desk, available for $450,000, was from his London home at Hyde Park Gate and was used while writing his "Second World War" memoirs, hand-corrected revised proofs of which are on sale for $750,000.

An inscribed copy of a first edition of "The Story of the Malakand Field Force," Churchill's first published non-fiction work, described by Harrington as "exceedingly rare" is on sale for $47,500.

And a copy of "Savrola," inscribed by Churchill to his military mentor Ian Hamilton after the two men were involved in the relief of Ladysmith following a 118-day siege, is on sale for $47,500.

The area around Ladysmith in South Africa was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the Boer War more than a century ago.

The battle involved three future world leaders Churchill, stretcher-bearer Mahatma Gandhi who later led India to independence and Louis Botha, South Africa's first prime minister.

Bound editions of Churchill's "On Free Trade" speeches, in defense of the free market, will likely attract the interest of collectors because of how rarely examples are available to purchase, Harrington said.

"If I'm a collector of rare books, these are the things to buy," said Harrington of the volumes, listed for $150,000.