Fake or Fortune art dealer discovers the painting he sold for £35,000 is now worth £2 million

Philip Mould had spent years trying to prove that the painting was an undiscovered Constable and research by the BBC1 series has finally vindicated him

Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould in Fake or Fortune?

Philip Mould, art dealer and co-host of BBC1’s Fake or Fortune? has just discovered that a painting he sold for £35,000 is now worth in the region of £2 million – but rather than rueing what might have been, he says he’s delighted with the news…

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Back in the 1990s, Mould bought the painting for £10,000, convinced it was an undiscovered work by the great John Constable. But after two failed attempts at convincing experts of its veracity, he was forced to sell it.

Twenty years on, in the latest edition of art world investigative series Fake or Fortune?, Mould, his co-host Fiona Bruce and their research team were finally able to use cutting-edge techniques to prove that the painting, an alternative view of the famous Hay Wain, is indeed a Constable. And Mould couldn’t be happier – even if he could be quite a bit wealthier…

“I’m really happy to know that I was not deluded,” said Mould after the results had been revealed. “I’m thrilled for Henry, its owner.  And also for Constable himself who must been a little peeved up there that his hand been demoted to an imitator or, more insulting still, a faker.”

Advances in digital technology enabled the Fake or Fortune? team to track down long-buried sales records and – despite a few scares along the way regarding apparently anomalous details of the pigment in the painting – analysis using ultraviolet infrared photography and imaging software eventually revealed that the work was in keeping with Constable’s techniques, providing enough evidence to convince two of the world’s top Constable experts.

Before the results of the investigation had been made public, Radio Times asked Mould whether he might harbour some frustration about having sold the painting if he were to be proven right about its origins, but even then he was adamant that would not be the case.

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“No, gosh no, definitely not frustrated. You can grow old and bitter as an art dealer. For me it will be the hugest sense of relief. The lovely thought that I was not deluded as a young man, and a sense of vindication. Above all, a sense of soulful delight and thrill at the knowledge that I will have added something to the portrayal of one of the most beautiful natural scenes in the canon of British art.”