The episode on the Alberto Giacometti (1901-66) sculpture was first broadcast in the summer of 2018 (during series seven) but a conclusion had not been reached at the end of the programme as the owners were still awaiting a decision from The Giacometti Committee in Paris.
In the intervening period owner Claire Clark-Hall and her daughter Henrietta Plunkett received the news that it was indeed authenticated as by Giacometti. Subsequently the family sold the sculpture at The Art Of The Surreal Evening Sale at Christie’s in London in February at a hammer price of £500,000.
The programme was then reshown on August 22 during the eighth series of the show, revealing to the audience its new attribution.
The white square of plaster known as Tête qui regarde (The Gazing Head) was brought to the Fake or Fortune? team by Clark-Hall who believed that her grandmother had bought the sculpture from Giacometti during the time she spent studying and modelling in the city.
The story was further complicated by the fact that it was once knocked over by a cat and broken into several pieces and later mended.
The research by art dealer Philip Mould, presenter Fiona Bruce and the Fake or Fortune? team included a visit to Germany, a CT scan and a trip back in time to “the bohemian world of 1930s Paris, where artists and intellectuals rubbed shoulders in cafes and studios”.
Giacometti’s work often fetches millions at auction but is notoriously difficult to authenticate without cast iron provenance proof because his works were often produced in multiple editions which were easily replicated.
The most expensive sculpture ever sold at auction was Giacometti’s Pointing Man which sold for $126m (£85.1m) at auction in New York in 2015.
Mould said: “It was taking it to the Royal Veterinary College that privately clinched it for me. Their X ray machine, suited to the task of x-raying large and unusual shaped animals was able to give a view of hidden repairs which we surmised may well have happened at Giacometti’s foundry. A faker would hardly have gone to that trouble.”