Painting bought for £30 is £250k Constable

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Constable

A landscape painting, roughly the rise of a postcard, was valued live on BBC Breakfast yesterday. Rob Darvell, a 45-year-old graphic designer from East London, was astonished to discover that the painting, bought for £30, was a Constable worth £250,000 (by the same hand as the View on the Stour pictured).

It joins the ranks of the best on-air valuations of all time.


Darvell had been given the landscape painting by his father when he was having a clear-out. He had bought it as part of a 'job lot' of paintings at auction ten years ago for £30. It had been in a drawer ever since. He contacted art expert Curtis Dowling to see if he could find out more about it.

Dowling was on the BBC Breakfast programme to promote his latest show, and instead of emailing Darvell with details of what his painting was worth, the expert told Darvell to come along to the programme for an on-air valuation.

Once they were on air, Dowling confirmed: "It's a Constable and it's never been seen properly before, so it's part of history, it will cause a stir and become a celebrity item." He added: "To add this to John Constable's canon of work is wonderful. A large section of the art world will be salivating to get their hands on it."

Darvell said: "I'm much more nervous of handling the picture now. I suspect we will want it hung in a gallery for a while, so the public can see it. So we don't plan on selling it for the time being at least."

Dramatic valuations

It was a dramatic moment, and is one of the most pricey on-air valuations from the UK in recent years. However, over the years there have been a number of stunning on-air valuations. These are our favourites from the Antiques Roadshow:

1. The most valuable item ever on the show was a bronze prototype model of Anthony Gormley's Angel of the North sculpture, taken along to a Gateshead programme in 2008.

2. It's not just the price tag that makes for a shocking valuation. A postcard was valued by the show at £3,000. However, it turned out that it was the final message from the Titanic - written by passenger Steven Jenkins and sent from Queenstown, the ship's last port of call. In it he says that the Titanic is 'a really nice ship to ride on'.

4. Then there are the great tales of the finds that have lain forgotten. In 1986 a couple took a watercolour to the Antiques Roadshow. They were about to move it to the shed while they redecorated the lounge, but changed their mind when they discovered it was The Halt in the Desert, by Richard Dadd, which had been missing since 1857. It was sold to the British Museum a year after the programme for £100,000.

4. And there's the story of the Michael Jackson fan who had won his fedora in a competition in 1991. It was valued by the programme at £25,000.

5. Perhaps the cruelest valuation was for a man who had spent £1,000 on a new bottle for his glassware collection in 2009, only to have it revealed as an empty supermarket olive oil bottle. The story was revealed to the Radio Times, because it was never broadcast.