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Presenter Fiona Bruce and art dealer Philip Mould with a still life painting of fruit ‘in the style of Giorgio de Chirico’.

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The Greek-born Italian artist founded the Metaphysical art movement and is regarded as the Father of Surrealism but he is also the second most forged Italian artist.

The picture was brought to art programme Fake or Fortune? by owner Bob Kay who had purchased it in a bric-a-brac shop in Hampshire more than 30 years ago for just £1.

More than 20 years ago Kay contacted the de Chirico Foundation about the painting and was told that although many on the committee thought it could be authentic, one person considered it to be a fake and it was not verified as being by the artist.

Kay hoped the Fake or Fortune? team would be able to research the picture, prove it was an original de Chirico and reverse the committee’s decision.

The team travelled to Italy, visiting Rome and Florence, to discover de Chirico’s original paint recipes as well as testing in a nuclear laboratory to try to authenticate the painting. By measuring the amount of radiocarbon in a splinter of wood from Kay’s picture, the lab can date the work.

Once the team gathered their evidence, the picture was taken to Rome and submitted to de Chirico Foundation.

Alas, the foundation concluded that the picture was not good enough to be an original.

However, Mould concluded that the “composition, the way the fruit is organised, and the date of the picture… all indicates [it is by] someone who knew de Chirico, who worked closely with him, even if it wasn’t the master himself”. 

The episode, the third in the eighth series of the BBC show, was broadcast on August 8 at 9pm.