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A man who appeared on Antiques Roadshow last night (26 July) looked gutted to find out a Lely painting he thought dated back to the 1600s was actually likely to be a copy - making it worth a lot less than an original, which could fetch up to £1 million ($1.2m).
The episode - originally broadcast last year - saw a guest proudly show the piece to art specialist Rupert Maas, revealing how the painting had been bought at auction in the 1850s, and has since been passed down through the family.
Owners had always been under the impression that the artwork was by popular artist Sir Peter Lely, who was alive between 1618 and 1680.
However, on closer inspection Maas became dubious about the painting's origins - concluding it was probably a copy made centuries later.
Unsurprisingly, many viewers found the twist hugely entertaining, with one tweeting: "Fake. He's gutted. That's not going back on the wall near the piano. His daughter can draw a moustache on it now."
Another said: "Guy with fake painting, highlight of the year."
Tweeting the clip, someone else wrote: "Antiques Roadshow just gave the wife and I the best laugh of the weekend."
After discussing the picture, Maas turned to the guest and said: "The question is, is it by Lely? The catalogue of 1845 you've just shown me says Lely doesn't it, quite clearly. But in those days they had somewhat a looser interpretation of the trade description act, if it indeed ever existed.
"The thing about Lely, the great portrait painter that he was, is that when he died he left hundreds of unfinished portraits and versions of portraits already done.
"His students and studio assistants finished them really quickly, and sold them all so that his entire estate, including his collection of old masters, made something like £30,000 in the 17th century, which was a massive amount of money. He was so popular.
"It effectively flooded the market with versions of his pictures done by lesser hands, the question is, is it one of those?"
Delivering the disappointing 'blow', he continued: "The secret here is not to look too closely I'm afraid, you can tell I'm softening you up for a bit of a blow.
"Sorry but I think, I'm afraid, this is a shadow of a dream. It's not even by a studio assistant. I think it's a much later copy.
"Something about the reduced scale, of course it should be massive, makes it look more domestic. Something about the frankly Victorian idea of a 17th century frame, it's been copied.
"And the colours are slightly gaudier than you'd expect, a little bit of clunkiness in the drawing of the hand, and then put on top of that this brown finish which is quite deliberately antiquing it, I think what we're looking at is a 19th century copy."
As the guest looked understandably disappointed, Maas apologised for the bad news, before going on to explain how much the painting would have been worth if it was an original.
He said: "I'm sorry to say it might even have been new when it was in this catalogue. So if it was an original Lely, it would be pretty well around a million pounds.
"But as it is, it's probably worth around, I don't know, £600. I'm sorry to let you down."
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