Fake or Fortune? Collection Journalist Fiona Bruce teams up with art expert Philip Mould to investigate mysteries behind paintings. It is a world of subterfuge and intrigue as they grapple with complex battles often unseen beneath the apparently genteel art establishment. Their sleuthing takes them from New York to Cairo and Cape Town as they unpick clues behind stolen and contested works of art, and unmask the work of a master forger along the way. The art world can prove a bear pit, with a myriad of tricksters at work. Experts estimate that anything between 20%-40% of works of art on the market are faked. And they can turn up in the most unexpected places. This Collection is made up from Series 1, 2 and 3
Monet: Series 1
In the opening episode, Fiona and Philip discover what they believe is an unrecognised and valuable painting by Monet. But can they convince the powers that be?
Homer: Series 1
In this episode, the focus falls on a painting found dumped by a rubbish tip which turns out to be a lost work by one of America’s most important 19th century artists, Winslow Homer. In a shock for all concerned, it is valued at 250,000 dollars. But who legally owns the picture, and why was it found in such an unlikely place? Philip and Fiona investigate.
Van Meegeren: Series 1
Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould investigate the career of notorious forger Han van Meegeren, who fooled galleries and buyers in the early 20th century with his fake versions of paintings by Old Masters. Using modern forensic science, the presenters unpick the intricacies of his technique, and investigate claims that a piece in a prestigious London gallery could be the final example of van Meegeren’s handiwork.
Degas and the Little Dancer: Series 2
Fiona Bruce and expert Philip Mould investigate more works of art with mysterious origins. They begin by examining a painting that owner Patrick Rice believes is by Edgar Degas. If correct, it could be worth about £500,000. However, although Patrick’s father bought it from a reputable dealer in 1945, the piece failed to make the official catalogue of the artist’s work – meaning it is not classed as genuine by auction houses and is currently valued at only £200. Fiona and Philip trace the artwork back through time to find out whether it really was created by one of France’s greatest artists.
Turner a Miscarriage of Justice: Series 2
Fiona Bruce and expert Philip Mould explore the history of three paintings bequeathed to the National Museum of Wales when their owner died in 1951. It was always believed the pieces were by landscape artist JMW Turner, but only months after the museum took ownership, experts branded them fakes and unfit to hang on the gallery walls. Now Philip sets out to prove their authenticity once and for all.
Van Dyck What Lies Beneath: Series 2
The tables are turned as art detective Philip Mould puts one of his own finds under the microscope, a painting he bought that he believes could be the work of 17th-century artist Anthony van Dyck. If he is right, it could be worth a small fortune. But to prove it, the piece will have to undergo a thorough restoration, involving the removal of layers of paint – and then be authenticated by an impartial expert. Will Philip’s reputation – and the painting – make it to the end of the journey unscathed?
Vuillard: Series 3
Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould investigate more potentially valuable works of art, beginning by helping a man who believes he owns a painting by French post-impressionist Edouard Vuillard. The quest for provenance begins in Geneva, where Philip compares the picture with a huge Vuillard work created in 1919, trying to find out whether the same materials were used in both, while Fiona uncovers clues to the picture’s origins in France and Holland. Once they have enough evidence, they seek the approval of the Wildenstein Institute in Paris – but these are the same experts who notoriously rejected a highly credible Monet back in the very first episode. Have they done enough to prove this picture is genuine?
Constable: Series 3
Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould take on a double challenge as they try to prove two paintings are missing works by one of Britain’s best-loved artists, John Constable. They are helping west London woman Gillie Dance, whose picture of Yarmouth Jetty turns out to have a close connection to the artist’s family, and American lawyer Tom Toppin, who has been struggling to prove the authenticity of his picture, Sea Beach Brighton, ever since buying it in the early 1990s. Will it be good news for either of the owners?
Chagall: Series 3
Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould help property developer Martin Lang try to prove the painting he bought in 1992 is by modern master Marc Chagall. The search for clues leads to the artist’s home town of Vitebsk in the former Soviet republic of Belarus, where Fiona makes a connection between the work and Chagall’s life story. However, things take a more negative turn with news of a fake Chagall being sold in Minsk, and when scientific testing raises more questions than answers, Philip travels to Los Angeles to consult a forger. Will the £100,000 the owner spent 22 years ago turn out to have been a shrewd investment or an expensive mistake?
Gainsborough: Series 3
The focus turns to Britain’s public art collections, in which 17,000 paintings are listed as `artist unknown’. From these Philip Mould and his research director Bendor Grosvenor identify several works they believe are by Thomas Gainsborough. They choose two paintings, the first being an 18th-century portrait of St Albans mayor Joseph Gape that Bendor thinks dates back to the artist’s days as a high-society portrait painter – although he’ll need to convince the world’s leading Gainsborough expert. Philip’s choice is a rare landscape, painted when the artist was experimenting with dreamlike scenes. But why is conservationist Aviva Burnstock troubled by a distinctive blue pigment?
Lowry: Series 4
Fiona Bruce and art experts Philip Mould and Bendor Grosvenor come to the aid of a man who has inherited three paintings that he believes were painted by LS Lowry. However, he cannot prove whether they are the genuine article, and since Lowry is the British artist whose work is most frequently forged, it will take a great deal of evidence to convince the art establishment of their value. The search for the truth leads to a discovery that challenges established beliefs about the artist’s life.
Renoir: Series 4
Nicky Philipps, an artist who has previously painted portraits of the royal family, seeks help in determining whether a mysterious painting housed at Picton Castle in Pembrokeshire is a genuine work by celebrated French Impressionist Pierre Auguste Renoir. Picton Castle is the ancestral home of Nicky’s family, and her aunt used to tell an intriguing tale that the picture in question came from Claude Monet’s house in Giverny, and was originally a gift given to the artist by Renoir himself. Fiona Bruce heads to Monet’s home to determine whether this rumour is true, and investigates contrasting academic opinions on whether the painting is genuine. Meanwhile, Philip Mould travels to the Parisian suburb of Argenteuil and to Berlin to make use of cutting-edge technology to determine whether the pigments in Nicky’s picture match up with those listed as being used by Renoir.
A Mystery Old Master: Series 4
Fiona Bruce and art expert Philip Mould visit a church in Lancashire, once patronised by Yorkshire’s famous Bronte sisters, that is the home of a painting thought to have been produced by an Italian old master. The picture itself is a pieta, an image of the aftermath of Christ’s crucifixion, and Philip has a hunch it may be from the Italian Renaissance, possibly making this one of the oldest pieces featured in the series so far. On behalf of the church’s congregation, Fiona and Philip travel to Italy to compare the Lancastrian pieta with works by old masters Titian and Tintortetto, while back in the UK, Bendor Grosvenor investigates the history of a local aristocrat who is believed to have donated the painting to the church more than 200 years ago.
Munnings and Churchill: Series 4
Fiona Bruce and art expert Philip Mould return for one final commission, helping Under-Sheriff and Secondary of London Charles Henty investigate whether two paintings in his possession are as valuable as he thinks. The first is a landscape picture of Dedham in Essex, thought to have been painted by pre-eminent British artist Alfred Munnings, and the second painting is of a medieval French village, and was rumoured to have been produced by part-time painter, full-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Charles hopes the sale of these two potentially pricey heirlooms will help protect jobs at a working French farm he inherited from his late uncle, but first he must learn whether the pictures are truly genuine.
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