Fans of the popular program Antiques Roadshow have been warned to take extra precautions when having their belongings valued on the show after it was revealed a prized painting was stolen from a family home after it was featured on the BBC show.
The painting, Portrait of Mary Emma Jones by Emma Sandys, was stolen in 1988 after its owner sent it to be valued by the popular presenters of the BBC hit show, The Times reports. However, the theft was only rediscovered in July of this year, when the painting sold at a Christie’s auction for £62,500.
Jan Davey, 69, who is the daughter of the painting’s late owner, said her father sent the 1870s-era painting to be valued when Antiques Roadshow rolled into town near their Norfolk home in 1987.
The experts on the program valued the exquisite painting at £20,000 at the time. A year later, in 1988, the episode featuring the painting went to air on the BBC, and just one week after that the prized piece of art was stolen from Davey’s family home.
“We came back on the Saturday night and everything had gone,” Davey told The Times. “As soon as we got in the hall there were no pictures on the wall. We ran down the corridor and there were no pictures anywhere. The next day, putting two and two together, it was pretty obvious. The week before it had been on the TV.”
According to The Times, an article about the theft was published in the local paper at the time, but because of the lack of social media and online news, it went largely unnoticed for those outside of Norfolk, and was eventually lost in the history pages of time.
Christie’s said they searched the Art Loss Register database before listing the impressionist-era painting for auction, but since the register was only started in the 1990s, Emma Sandys’ artwork wasn’t listed.
When Christie’s listed the painting on their website in July, the auction house described it as a “recently rediscovered” work of art that bore “all the hallmarks of Emma’s mature style”.
“A work of this quality has not been previously seen on the open market, making this a key reattribution,” it said.
The painting is still listed on the auction house’s website and says it sold to a private buyer.
A former metropolitan police officer who specialised in art and antiques crime told The Times he and his officers used to joke that criminals sat at home all day watching Antiques Roadshow, looking for their next item to steal.
He warned anyone who appears on the show to take the necessary precautions to safeguard their valuables because they’re essentially “running a flag up the mast to say, this is what I’ve got”.