A Banksy painting called Mobile Lovers, showing a couple embracing while checking their mobile phones, appeared by the doorway of a cash-strapped Bristol youth club in April 2014. The painting was attached to a piece of wood, which was screwed to the wall.
The youth club owner removed it, brought it inside and invited the public to come and see it — and make a donation if they wanted to. The police took the painting away and gave it to the city council, who displayed it at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.
But Banksy wrote to the Broad Plain club, which was facing closure, and said they could have it. The piece was valued on Antiques Roadshow at £400,000 and later sold to a private collector for £403,000, helping to secure the futures of Broad Plain and other local youth clubs. Young people at Broad Plain have created their own “Thanks Banksy” mural for saving their club.
The happiest ending: the hoarded £350,000 of silver
Go to the seven-minute mark
This is one for the movies. A young man named Richard Hobbs went down in Roadshow history when, in 1993, he presented silver specialist Ian Pickford with a carrier bag full of pieces he didn’t think would be worth much. It turned out to be the show’s most important silver collection.
Hobbs discovered that his father had been secretly collecting silver and stashing it under the bed in shoeboxes. The family had very little money and never went on holiday or had any luxuries — and it was suddenly clear where the cash had gone. Richard and his mother Margaret later sold the silver for a total of £350,000.
After Ronnie Biggs and co carried out the Great Train Robbery in 1963, they passed the time while hiding from the police by playing Monopoly — with real money. The board was later part of the evidence used by Thames Valley Police.
Roadshow specialist George Archdale valued it at just £100—£200, thinking it wrong for money to be made from a crime.
Greatest Hoax: These fairy photographs
In 1917, cousins Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths took five photographs to prove that fairies existed at the bottom of their garden in the woods of Cottingley, Yorkshire. It was widely believed to be a hoax at the time, until Arthur Conan Doyle said he believed the story and also set out in 1920 to prove it, giving the girls better cameras to take more fairy photographs.
In 2008, the daughter and granddaughter of Frances caused amazement when they turned up on the Roadshow with the photographs and camera. One of the greatest pranks of the 20th century was valued at £25,000.
Most valuable: The £1 million Fabergé
A Fabergé flower is the most valuable item ever to be brought in by a member of the public, valued at £1 million by expert Geoffrey Munn. It will be revealed in a future edition of the show but was inspected in June when the BBC was filming at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, West Midlands.
Executive producer Simon Shaw says, “This is one of the most significant jewellery finds in Antiques Roadshow history”
Fiona Bruce’s favourite find: An authentic Van Dyke
Fiona Bruce’s favourite Roadshow discovery was in 2013 when a portrait bought for £400 turned out to be an Anthony van Dyck worth about £400,000.
Father Jamie MacLeod had bought it from a Nantwich antique shop because he liked the frame and he hung it for a long time in a retreat house that he ran in Derbyshire. He said that the painting had fallen off the wall once and broken his CD player.
Fiona Bruce had recently worked on a Fake or Fortune? edition about Van Dyck and suggested it had some Van Dyck-like details that should be checked. She was right.
The owner of a teddy bear got a huge shock when she had it valued at £200,000. The cash cow, or bear, had spent years on top of the cupboard but was actually a rare commemorative bear produced by Steiff in 1912 as a memorial to the children who lost their lives on the Titanic. Only around 600 of the black, grieving bears were made.
Most adventurous: this polar portfolio
One weekend, a couple who worked in housing development were clearing the garden of a large house due for demolition and found a portfolio full of photographs from Captain Scott’s 1912 Polar expedition, the same year he and his fellow explorers died during the journey back from the South Pole. The pictures were valued at £5,000 in 1997 when they were brought onto the show, but they would fetch considerably more today.
And the Breakages…
According to a Freedom of Information Request, from 2005 to 2009 there were 17 incidents of valuables being damaged and nearly £6,000 was spent on repairs. When things break “an enormous number of people from the BBC turn up and apologise profusely, as does the person who did it,” says expert David Battie. But don’t worry: your antiques are safe. “In 40 years, only a handful have been broken. We spend our lives handling things. I’ve never broken anything and not many people have.”
Antiques Roadshow is on Sunday 8.00pm BBC1 is on Sunday 8.00pm BBC1
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