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Painting bought for £1 in Lymington junk shop investigated by Fake or Fortune

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Fiona Bruce with the £1 painting that its owner hoped would turn out to be £50,000 masterpiece
Fiona Bruce with the £1 painting that its owner hoped would turn out to be £50,000 masterpiece

THE owner of a painting bought for just £1 in a Lymington junk shop that he thought could be a masterpiece by a 20th century Italian artist worth over £50,000 has had his hopes dashed.

The story of the still life of a bowl of fruit, purchased by Bob Kay 30 years ago, was featured on the BBC One show Fake or Fortune which aired last week.

Bob had been told it could possibly be by artist Giorgio de Chirico. Born in Greece to an Italian father and half Greek, half Italian mother in July 1888, the artist returned to live in Italy where he founded the Scuola Metafisica art college.

“It was so distinct and vibrant and competent, I thought it was worth a pound,” Bob explained.

“I didn’t know who the painting was by. A friend, an art dealer, he saw the painting and he mentioned the name Giorgio de Chirico.”

Bob told the programme that over 20 years ago, auctioneers Christie’s had told him he should have the painting evaluated by the Chirico Foundation.

Although the majority of its committee thought it was authentic, one member disagreed.

Fake or Fortune, co-hosted by Fiona Bruce, sent the painting to a nuclear laboratory in Florence for tests, and carbon dating was used to prove the materials used in the artwork came from the time Chirico was working.

However, the Chirico Foundation said it believed the brush work was not the artist’s.

Although the foundation’s committee said there was “strong evidence” of it possibly being a Chirico, they were still “not convinced” it was his.

The programme’s expert Philip Mould said he believed the painting could have been done by someone working closely with the artist.

Bob took the revelation the painting was not original quite well, saying: “That’s not a pound I’ll ever get back.”

Fiona said she was “surprised” the artwork was not by Chirico, saying: “I’m really sorry.”

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