Stealing Homer

The tale of the Winslow Homer watercolor discovered on Britain’s Antiques Roadshow gets more and more complicated, as the Times of London tells us. It turns out the original owners thought the work was by Lady Blake, not a picture of her. They did not realize the work had been stolen from their home so it was not listed with the Art Loss Registry, even then they would not have known it was a Homer. Nonetheless, the family feels the picture is theirs and are only willing to offer the consignors a finder’s fee for having produced it from the refuse pile:

Winslow Homer painting

The Homer painting was never framed and was stored in a portfolio of works by Blake’s wife, Edith, who was an artist. At some point the name “Lady Blake” was written on the back, and the family eventually presumed it was Edith’s work.

Simon Murray, the great-great-grandson of Sir Henry and who was brought up in Co Cork, says the family didn’t realise the painting was missing until it turned up at Sotheby’s. He and his mother, Shirley Rountree, who lives at Myrtle, believe the work was stolen in a series of break-ins during the mid-1980s. […]

In 1987 an English holidaymaker who was fishing close to the estuary of the Blackwater River found the paintings on a rubbish dump about two miles from Myrtle Grove. Last year he brought them to the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow at Althorp in Northamptonshire, Princess Diana’s childhood home. Philip Mould, the programme’s art expert, spotted Homer’s signature on Children Under a Palm Tree and reckoned it was worth £30,000 (€34,000), and far more if it was restored. […]

But two days before the sale Rountree spotted an item in The Daily Telegraph, and her son contacted Sotheby’s, which agreed to withdraw it. “I got a panicked call from my mother saying they were about to sell the painting and we had to stop it; she was very distressed,” said Murray, who works as a lawyer in London.

€110,000 Winslow Homer Painting is a “Steal” (Times of London)