Got some spare time on your hands? YouTube reruns of the world’s most genteel show are your friend…
Forget Netflix. Our new lockdown obsession is watching reruns of The Antiques Roadshow. Among the best is the recent British episode featuring the gentle berating of a man who ‘liberated’ a Banksy from a Brighton swimming pool: As part of an October 2020 instalment, the man displayed a spray-painted rat holding a drill which he’d taken from Saltdean Lido a couple of decades before. Paintings expert Rupert Maas was pretty nonplussed when the man revealed he’d pulled it off the wall, explaining that you need a Certificate of Authentication to sell a Banksy, and that these are not awarded to works removed from the public domain. His final words on the subject? “If you do see a piece of graffiti art out there, leave it for the public.” Rupert put it so well that the clip is now linked on the Pest Control website, the official channel for applying for a Certificate of Authentication for any Banksy work.
Interestingly, it wasn’t the first time Maas had appraised a Banksy on the show. Back in 2014, Dennis Stinchcombe, the manager of the impoverished Broad Plain Boys Club in Bristol, turned up with the painting Mobile Lovers, depicting a couple locked in an embrace while looking at their cellphones over each others’ shoulders. The piece, which had been taken down from the club’s wall, was valued by Maas at £420,000 – and this time, Stinchcombe turned up with a letter written by Banksy himself, telling him that he should do whatever “he feels is right with the piece.” Following the episode, Mobile Lovers was sold for £403,000, which enabled the club to continue its community work.
Inspired by the Banksy episodes, we dug a little deeper into the Antiques Roadshow archives (let’s face it, there’s not much else to do at the moment) – and it turns out that the US version has some gems of its own. Take the 2017 episode, in which a man turned up with a oil-stick drawing that Basquiat had given his business partner as a Christmas present back in the 1980s (featuring his famous crown emblem, it was valued at $400,000). Or the larger-than-life character who had accosted Andy Warhol in a nightclub, asked him to sign some Campbell’s Soup Cans, and walked away with six signed versions worth $2000 each (which he planned to sell in order to take his mum to Acapulco for the weekend). Then there was a man who loved his daughter’s Keith Haring Swatch watch so much that he turned up to a place where the artist was painting a mural – and ended up with a graffiti-ed shirt and a raft of original drawings to take home with him.