Fiona Bruce and a man called Homer

By Blog on the Box on Jun 27, 11 02:22 PM

So that's what Fiona Bruce was doing sitting in a deck chair on the beach at Cullercoats.

She visited the village as part of her filming schedule for Fake or Fortune, a spin-off from the Antiques Roadshow where she teams up with posh art expert Philip Mould, and their latest programme saw the pair getting the sea air.

(I nearly said they were getting the sun but this IS Cullercoats)

They were trying to trace the history of a painting found outside a tip in Ireland and brought to the Roadshow a couple of years back.

Mould identified it as a Winslow Homer, one of America's greatest painters, and valued it at £30,000.

In the end it was worth a lot more but the potential sale at Sotheby's was cancelled when the original owners turned up and wanted the biggest slice of the action.

The Cullercoats connection? Homer had spent time in Cullercoats when, in days gone by, it was something of a haven for painters looking for their muse.

Stop laughing at the back there. It really happened and many Cullercoats residents at the time were committed to canvas by the painter who specialised in sea scenes.

Fiona and her co-presenter set to unearth the provenance of the painting and what followed was an intriguing detective story which proved it was a real Homer.

I was with the family of the painting's finder, including a fine woman with tattoos down both arms, as they tried to cash in.

But the descendants of the original owners turned up and said it had been stolen.

The theft was not reported, apparently, but a smartly-dressed lawyer persuaded the auctioneers to stop the sale.

It's still in legal hell but Mrs Tattoo did have a point when she said no-one would get nowt if the painting had not been found in the first place.

So much for finder's keepers and, no, the painting itself was not painted in Cullercoats but in the Bahamas.

Now that's a place where Fiona can get some sun.

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