May 14, 2021 4.06 pm This story is over 6 months old

Sold in under a minute: 100th birthday portrait of last living Dambuster fetches £25k

A record auction for George “Johnny” Johnson’s portrait

A special 100th birthday portrait of the last living Dambuster, George “Johnny” Johnson sold in under a minute at auction on Friday for £25,000.

A Caribbean gentleman, who is a collector, is believed to have been the winning bidder at the public auction held at Roger Jones auction house in Cardiff on May 14.

Proceeds will benefit the charity 617 Group, which Johnny Johnson is president of and he is due to turn 100 years old on November 25 this year.

The portrait was painted by Dan Llywelyn Hall, who sat with Johnny in Bristol in 2018 before inviting him to an exhibition of all the Dambusters’ portraits he’d made for the 75th anniversary of the Dams Raid.

May 16, 2021 marks the 78th anniversary since the Dams Raid, which is widely regarded as one of the most audacious operations in military history. 133 men set off in 19 Lancasters to destroy Adolf Hitler’s power-generating dams, but sadly 53 did not return. The story went on to inspire the popular Dambusters film.

The full portrait of George “Johnny” Johnson. | Portrait: Dan Llywelyn Hall

After the auction, Dan said: “I’m sorry to see my larger than life painting leave the studio, however I’m sure it’ll be the face that defines the last memory of that fateful evening 78 years ago.”

The artist also launched a petition to try and get medals for those who were “never rewarded for their service”. At the time of publication it has over 250 signatures.

Artist Dan Llywelyn Hall sitting with George “Johnny” Johnson in Bristol in 2018. | Photo: Richard Brewis

Johnny Johnson, who was born in Hameringham near Horncastle in 1921, said he “enthusiastically recognises” himself in the artist’s work and said with an approving smile that it’s “typical” of Dan’s portraits.

He said: “I look forward to my century and I am honoured to still be able to represent the men who went on the Dams Raid.

“It would be excellent if a new petition could finally see Bomber Command finally recognised with a medal.”

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