Viewers outraged as Fake or Fortune painting bought for £165,000 said to be almost worthless

But viewers are convinced the leading expert got it wrong

Presenters Fiona Bruce, Philip Mould with ‘Glass Jug with Plates and Pears’ by William Nicholson (BBC, TL)

A painting that was bought for a massive £165,000 was deemed almost worthless in the series seven opener of Fake or Fortune?

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Experts on the BBC art history show examined Glass Jug with Plates and Pears – which was believed to have been painted by Sir William Nicholson, the British artist who once taught Winston Churchill – but found there was no direct evidence to suggest it had been painted by Nicholson.

Although the painting was scientifically linked to Nicholson’s own paint box and a handwriting specialist said the writing on the back of the painting was the artist’s, art expert Patricia Reed concluded that there was “nothing that gives any direct evidence that he actually directed the work himself”.

Co-host Philip Mould said that the painting would have been worth a couple of hundred thousand pounds if verified, but “as a non-William Nicholson, it could be only worth a few hundred.”

In her letter to the painting’s owner Lyn Fuss, Reed said: “I regret to inform you that I do not find there is sufficient evidence to attribute this work to William Nicholson.

 “Although there are a number of aspects that link the physical board and paint with William Nicholson and his studio, there is nothing that gives any direct evidence that he actually directed the work himself.

“There was a group of amateur painters who were tutored individually by Nicholson in his studio and elsewhere during the 1930s. This work could have been executed by one of them under William Nicholson’s supervision.”

Host Fiona Bruce was seen lost for words after announcing the news to Lyn. “I don’t know what to say,” said Bruce, adding she had expected the painting to be authenticated. “I’m shocked, I’m genuinely shocked by that verdict.”

And viewers were also taken aback by the decision…

Reed won’t be offering any more controversial decisions about Nicholson paintings next week. Instead, a French committee who previously refused to authenticate two sketchbooks allegedly belonging to a young Toulouse-Lautrec could find themselves in the firing line.

Will they reverse an art world decision that one owner refuses to accept? Or is another unlikely Twitter storm on the horizon?

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Fake or Fortune is on 9pm Sunday on BBC1, 9pm


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