Portrait of Queen that hung in Winnipeg arena looking for new home

The five-metre by seven-metre portrait of the Queen is up for sale on an online auction site

WINNIPEG – A massive, if not particularly well-loved, portrait of the Queen that once watched over National Hockey League games in Winnipeg is again looking for a new home.

The five-metre by seven-metre painting – believed to be the largest known portrait of the Queen – is up for sale on an online auction site, with no target price listed.

“We are encouraging anyone with serious interest in putting it up in the right location where it is able to be appreciated and celebrated with the public,” Jamie Boychuk, one of two men who bought the painting last year, wrote in an email Thursday.

“It is important to us that it be somewhere the people of Winnipeg can view it.”

The painting was done by billboard artist Gilbert Burch in 1979 and it hung from the rafters in the former Winnipeg Arena for 20 years.

But it was criticized by some who said it was not a good likeness of the Queen. And Winnipeg Jets players were known to try to hit the painting with pucks during practice.

The artwork was taken down in 1999 in preparation for the Pan Am Games and spent most of the ensuing years stored in a warehouse in Whitby, Ont.

It’s so massive – weighing some 270 kilograms – that its various owners have had a hard time finding someone with a large wall reinforced enough to handle it. If hung in Winnipeg’s new arena, MTS Centre, it would block an entire section of seats.

Boychuk, an executive at CN Rail, and a work colleague purchased the portrait in February 2015 hoping to have it see the light of day once again in Winnipeg.

Boychuk would not reveal how much he and his colleague paid for the painting. But he said he’s not expecting to recoup all the money he has spent acquiring and transporting it.

It’s the perfect time for the painting to find a new home, he said.

“With the Heritage Classic being in Winnipeg this year, we feel it is the right time for the painting to be displayed and celebrated.”

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