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Painter of Kings and King of Painters

Among the notable paintings in the Rwanda Sale is one by Andrew Vicari, which had previously been put up for sale by Christie’s in Dubai in 2006 at an estimated value of $25,000 to $35,000. In 2006 Vicari appeared in the Sunday Times Rich List with a fortune of £92 million, which made him the world’s richest living painter.

Mentored by Bacon

After attending Swansea School of Art, he went to Slade School of Fine Art, London, where he was mentored by Francis Bacon (1909-92), and influenced by Lucian Freud (1922-2011), Josef Herman (1911-2000) and Sir William Coldstream (1908-87).

Painter of kings

An Italian restaurant owner’s son, the 78-year-old Vicari became known as ‘the king of painters and painter of kings’ after gaining lucrative commissions to paint heads of state and royals. His sitters have included Russian President Vladimir Putin, Sophia Loren, Mao Tse-tung, Francois Mitterrand, Jonathan Aitken and Prince Rainier. In 2001 he sold 125 paintings of the Gulf War to Prince Khalid for seventeen million pounds. The Iranian mullahs were so furious, they offered Vicari five million pounds to burn them. Vicari remains virtually unknown in the UK, even though they hold retrospectives of his work in China, and there are three museums devoted to his work in Saudi Arabia. He is the official painter for Interpol and the CRS, France’s elite police force.


In 2014 Vicari filed for bankruptcy blaming ill health for his problems. My, he must have spent some money during those eight years to burn up £92 million. Vicari has been noted for some of his forthright comments. He stated, ‘Saatchi and Serota should be executed for what they have done to British art. The Turner prize? Every year our greatest painter’s name is sullied by that award.’ I think there are quite a few people who would agree with him. The painting we have for sale is the colourful street scene titled Patha Patha and is estimated at £800 - £1,200. To read more about the cause behind the Rwanda sale, read our blog A Sack of Old Clothes Builds a School in Rwanda.

If you have any paintings you would like to have valued, please contact Jonathan Riley of Grand Auctions, Folkestone, Kent.