The fate of Marochetti's bust of W.E.Gladstone remains one of the great unresolved mysteries of the sculptor's career. In fact the only record of it seems to be that left by Gladstone himself in his diary. In May 1857 and March 1858 there are eight references to Marochetti, of which seven specify that there was a sitting. In the first reference (18 May 1857), Gladstone wrote, "Sat to Marochetti for my bust at C's desire but I confess with a bad conscience. I cannot desire that an image of me should remain behind me & far less that they should be multiplied". The 'C' referred to was evidently Catherine Gladstone, the politician's wife. It looks as though the possibility of an edition of the bust being produced, either in bronze or Parian Ware, had been discussed between artist and sitter. At the next sitting (20 May 1857), Gladstone wrote that Marochetti "works very rapidly & gives me advice about art all the time". On 23rd May, he appears to have been accompanied by Catherine, and recorded that Marochetti "showed us beautiful things & ......curiously combines realism with powerful imagination". Sittings were then broken off for a little over a year, but there were at least two more after they resumed early in March 1858. On 10 March, Gladstone wrote, "Sat for the last time to Marochetti. His bust of me is a product of extraordinary power: I would it were another subject". This is the last we hear of the bust.
H.C.G. Matthew, who edited the Gladstone diaries, mentions in a footnote that the bust was not exhibited, as were so many of Marochetti's busts, at the Royal Academy. He speculates that it might have been commissioned for Mansion House in the City, and destroyed by German bombing in 1940. It could be that Matthew was confusing Mansion House, which did not suffer bomb damage, with the Guildhall, which did, and where a number of portrait sculptures were destroyed. The Corporation Records tell us that the bust of Gladstone commissioned for Guildhall in November 1881 was by Thomas Woolner. Gladstone himself seems to have been consulted on this occasion as to an appropriate sculptor for the job. Replying on his behalf, his secretary gave the names of a number of sculptors who had done statues or busts of him, though the name of Marochetti was not mentioned. The omission of his name, can, of course be easily explained, in that the Corporation were looking for a living sculptor who might portray Gladstone as Prime Minister and Grand Old Man, as he had become, rather than as an out of office Chancellor of the Exchequer, which he had been at the time Marochetti sculpted his bust. Certainly no bust of Gladstone by Marochetti has ever been recorded in Mansion House.
(See The Gladstone Diaries, vol.V, 1855-1860, ed. H.C.G. Matthew, Oxford, 1978, pp.224,225,282 and 283, and Corporation of London Records, City Lands Committee Minutes, General Committee, 7 November 1881, Letter fromm Gladstone's secretary to the committee)