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Dispute over ownership of painting | Print |  Email
Monday, 11 July 2011

In the 1980s English angling tourist Tony Varney picked up a number of paintings that he came across close to a waste dump near Youghal in Co. Cork. He still had the paintings in his possession when he had the opportunity in 2008 to have them assessed by the BBC's Antiques Roadshow team. One watercolour was identified as the work of Boston-born artist Winslow Homer (1836-1910).

The painting, thought to be of the children of Limerick-born Sir Henry Arthur Blake, went on sale at Sotheby's New York in 2009 with an estimated value of between $150k and $250k. Before the day of the auction a descendant of Sir Henry claimed ownership of the painting.  Simon Murray claimed that the painting had been stolen from the gate lodge at Myrtle Grove in Youghal, the house purchased by Sir Henry on his retirement from the British colonial service and now lived in by Mr Murray's mother.

Mr Murray says the theft wasn't reported to gardaí as, although a number of minor burglaries had taken place at the gate lodge in the 1980s, no one noticed that the portfolio of paintings was missing. He was alerted to the New York sale by an article in the Daily Telegraph.

The Irish Times, which carried the story, reported that a further attempt was due to be made during the week to reach some form of agreement between Mr Murray and Mr Varney. We didn't hear if any progress was made.

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