Children under a Palm Tree Painting - A mother fights for Justice

children under a palm tree painting
children under a palm tree painting

Fake or Real Masterpiece

The Art world is a mysterious journey that can take you back in time. Not only can it tell the story of the Artist, but if you look a bit closer, it can reveal a story of intrigue, greed or family feuds. When an Artist paints, he is thinking about the subject, but not of the aftermath. Little does he know that one day his picture will cause a battle that not only involves the Law Courts, but also will involve the greatest Auction House of Today. Sotheby's.

The story starts on a day way back in the 1980s. Tony Varney, a fisherman and his daughter Selina, had gone fishing at his local spot, in County Cork, Ireland. On the way back, they happened to walk past a Rubbish Dump. This is a place where everyone comes to throw away all their old garbage. TV's, sofa's, chairs and broken pieces of rubbish that they no longer want.

As they walked past, Tony spotted just outside the dump, a few old pictures thrown down on the ground. They didn't have any frames, and if he had left them there, they would have been ruined by the rain. Tony liked collecting things, in fact he has quite a collection of old pictures and other objects, that he likes to keep. Mainly bought at garage sales, charity shops and so on. So, leaning down, he brushed of the dirt, and decided to take them home to keep them safe from ruin.

Then for the next 20 years he forgot about them.

Then in May 2008, he decided to take them to the Antiques Roadshow in Althorp, Northampton England. This is a popular TV program made by the BBC.

When Tony Arrived, he was told that the other pictures were not valuable, but there was one that could well be worth in the excess of 30,000 pounds, approx 50,000 dollars. As you can imagine, he was stunned. He learned that the work, Children Under a Palm Tree, had most likely been painted by Winslow Homer. A very important water colourist in America in the 19th Century.

After the initial shock, Tony decided to let the Antiques Roadshow investigate how such a great Painting could end up on a rubbish dump in Ireland.

So they set out to try to track down it's History. And of course figure out if it was a fake or the real thing.

A Very Important Piece

After investigation, they found that the painting was indeed an authentic Winslow Homer. Taking the search further they realised that one of the other paintings found, had a connection to Homer, and the search was on to try and find out more about the story.

At the same time, they decided to put it up for sale at Sotheby's.

At this point, there wasn't any reason to think that there would be any problem with the sale of the Painting. Nobody had ever reported it missing, or stolen. As far as Tony was concerned it was just another pretty water colour that happened to have been thrown away. In fact Tony Varney and Selina, were more interested in the history of the piece. After twenty long years of collecting dust in a cupboard, they thought it was time that someone else had a chance to own this wonderful Painting.

Selina is a part time carer, and has four children. They are not a wealthy family, and Selina was really excited to think that she could use the money for the children to help them with their future. She was really looking forward to the sale, not just for the money, but because of the whole experience. Nothing like this had ever happened to her. So this was an exciting time.

Then it got even better. Selina and Tony were given the great news. The painting was in fact worth more.

A lot more.

It was well on the way to being sold for 150,000 pounds!

Winslow Homer
Winslow Homer

Who was Winslow Homer the Artist?

Winslow Homer was a landscape artist. Born on February 24 1836, he was well known for painting marine subjects. He also practised printmaking.

Being self taught, he practised with water colours and started his career as a commercial illustrator. He soon turned his talent to oil painting. Being most profficient in both water colours and oil, he soon became very well known.

In 1859 he opened a studio in New York City. For a few years he attended The National Academy of Design, and then went on to study with Frederic Rondel, who taught him the basics of Painting. He died on September 29 1910.

Simon Murray the great grandson
Simon Murray the great grandson

Work by Winslow Homer

Myrtle Grove

In 2009, Selina and her father packed their case and headed off to New York. The Painting was going up for sale at Sotheby's. Everything was in place, the picture was ready, and all the catalogues had been sent out weeks before. There shouldn't have been a problem. But then out of the blue, Selina received a phone call.

Somehow, there had been a claim on the Painting!

The descendants of Sir Henry Arthur Blake, who was a British Colonial administrator, back in the 19th Century, stated that the painting was of Sir Henry's children, so therefore the painting still belonged to them!

Evidently they claim that it had been in their family for generations, and had been stolen years ago. Homer had Painted the picture when they had all met up abroad. Homer had then given their descendants the Painting as a gift. But the only trouble was that when the relatives were interviewed they kept coming up with a different story.

Lies and More Lies

On searching for the history of the painting, Sotheby's had managed to find the Blake family, and explained to them about the find. At this point, Sotheby's had been in contact with Mrs. Blake, and she was told about the Painting. She had also been given the Auction Catalogue which shows clearly the Painting and the sale price. She was very surprised to hear about it. And at the beginning, the family were not interested in the Painting. They explained that they had no record of a burglary, and no recollection of the actual work. Nobody had ever reported it missing, and in fact they hadn't even known of its existence.

While Sotheby's stated that they had let the Blakes know about the painting, and they had no objection to the sale, the Blakes had then decided weeks later that actually they did know it had been stolen and were interested in what was happening. Even worse, they claim that nobody had got in touch with them about it, and the first that they knew about the Painting was when Mrs. Blake had seen it in the newspaper in the States! She was on holiday, and just happened to find it when she was looking for something in the said paper! In other words, it was just a coincidence that she happened to be there at the same time as the sale. In other words she was calling Sotheby's a liar.

Then came the biggest bombshell. They wanted to sell the painting and give Selina just 25 percent of the proceeds.

Selina refused the offer. She was then told that she could sell it, and sort out the problem after the sale. 10 minutes before the painting was sold, she was called to the office and told that it had been withdrawn! Without an injuction, without any form off proof, the other party had stopped the sale!

Simon Murray, Sir Henry's great great grandson, gave an interview on camera stating that actually yes they did know of it, and refused to budge on the issue. When asked why he wanted to sell the painting, he stated that, 'Myrtle Grove, the family house needs a lot of renevating and we need the money for that'! He then went on to make an insulting remark about Selina and her family. He states, ' I feel sorry for her, I really do, I know she wanted the money for a swimming pool or loads of cars'!

This man, who comes from a family that is so wealthy they can jet of around the world just when they feel like it, belittles Selina, who is a kind and loving mother. But Selina held onto her dignity by not responding. Not only is Simon rich, he is also a lawyer. Therefore he knows exactly how to handle the case.

After the sale was stopped, Selina and her family spend the next year trying every way to get Justice. She has even been visited by the Police, who claim she may be prosecuted for theft!

Just over a year later, the Blake family allege that they have found documents, letters that mention the party that the children had gone too, and the description of the clothes they were wearing in the Painting. This, say the Blakes is irrefutable proof that the painting is theirs.

They stated that as it was a family piece then it should automatically come back to the family.

The Outcome

Sadly, there isn't any change on the horizon. Selina and her father, have been offered 25 per cent of the sale, and the rest of the money is to go to the Drakes. That of course is what would happen if Selina agreed.

But she didn't. As she states,' If we hadn't found the painting, it would have been ruined within a couple of days, or even a few hours. We saved it. They knew nothing about it.'

The case is still going on nearly three years after the first visit to the Antique Roadshow. .

Latest Below....!




Myrtle Grove

Home to the Blakes. Previous owners were Oliver Cromwell and Sir Walter Raleigh.
Home to the Blakes. Previous owners were Oliver Cromwell and Sir Walter Raleigh.

My Opinion

I do understand both parties. On retrospect. The Blakes believe it is a family portrait and therefore it should go back to them. Selina believes that as her father found it, and kept it for 20 years, without anyone claiming it, then it belongs to her. The fact is that the Painting ended up in the Rubbish dump somehow. My personal belief is that either the Blakes who live there now, had the house cleared out, and all the rubbish was taken to to rubbish dump.

Or they moved in after their relative had died and they inherited the house. Either way the original owner, for whatever reason, decided at the time, that they didn't want the Painting, along with other goods, and threw them away. There was no burglary, as the Blakes stated in the first place. So surely the law just has to decide whether if you throw something away, have you a claim to it now? I don't know. all I know is that surely they can come to some agreement.

One other thing that I think should be mentioned. If there had been a burglary back in the 80s, and someone had deliberately targeted Paintings, believing they were valuable, then surely the thief would know how famous Homer was? You would not break into a house, steal an old picture without a frame, take it outside, look at it then throw it on the dump! Doesn't make sense, does it?!

Why not just split the money in half. Now there's a thought. The one advantage of all the publicity surrounding the story is that the Painting will increase in price. Maybe that is what the Blake family are hoping for.

Who owns the Painting. You Decide.

See results without voting

Latest Update from October 2013 and May 2015

According to Wikipedia, in October 2013 The London Evening Standard reported that Shirley Rountree (Simon's mother) was suing Sothebys for the return of the painting.

According to Sothebys, they have issued a statement that says:

'The ownership of the painting is still being disputed and should be settled in the Courts'.

The latest news on this amazing story is that Clifford Schorer a rich entrepreneur, says he loaned Selena Rendall an unspecified amount of money in 2012, and she backed the loan with the painting - which is estimated to be worth as much as $250,000.

Clifford has since tried to retrieve the Painting from Sotheby's but they still refuse to let him take it. Even though the Blake family have never pressed its ownership. It is still an ongoing case.

Only a change of ownership from Selena to Clifford has maybe helped to alter the dynamics of the argument. In other words Selena may not have much say or push in court, but a top business man will.

we will see!


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Comments 232 comments

Leanne1783 profile image

Leanne1783 5 years ago from Bradford, United Kingdom

Great hub, I watched the TV programme the other night about the painting. I thought it was very unfair that they were allowed to pull the sale of the painting from the auction right at the last minute as another party had claimed ownership. If the painting had not been rescued it would be ruined and there would be no issue. I felt an instant dislike to the great grandson and his attitude to toward the family. I personally think the family that found the painting should be entitled to the total amount especially as there was no evidence of a burglary.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Leanne, thanks for reading it, I was so mad I went blue! ha ha what made me so mad is the fact that he lied through his teeth! and yet, its obvious to me that if it had been stolen, then the thief would have known about paintings! you don't take a painting without knowing what you are targeting! then to throw it in the rubbish? no, don't think so! I hope she sticks to her guns and holds out, did you know that Simon the grandson actually opens his doors to visitors in the summer? then he said they had no money coming in to restore the place! it was when he said that she 'would by a swimming pool!' arrghhh! lol get me off my soapbox please! hee hee thanks so much nell


Leanne1783 profile image

Leanne1783 5 years ago from Bradford, United Kingdom

Hi Nell, Your comment made me laugh!! I have the exact same sentiments! When he said she would spend it on a pool or a new car it made me so angry. I didn't realise that he opens his doors in the summer, that has made me even more angry! Some people, I am even more set in that the painting should stay with the family that found it!


Ddraigcoch profile image

Ddraigcoch 5 years ago from UK

Amazing story. My heart really goes out to Selina and her family. Not because of the money but the headache the Blakes have caused them.

They do not a claim in my eyes. What if that painting had been sold or given away years ago by the family. It is not right they should benefit again from it.

I would love to hear Selina win on this out of principle.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Hire a lawyer and take it to court.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Leanne, lol got a bit carried away with it! it just drove me mad! typical of those sort of people, anybody could have owned that painting! they could have given it away years ago! She had better win the case! good for her though for sticking it out, bet that got right up their back, thanks again

Hi, Ddraig, thanks for reading it, yes you are right, I only thought of that when I read your comment, exactly! maybe someone should try and find that person, that would put a spanner in the works! lol thanks so much nell

Hi Will, that's exactly what's going on, really rich fighting a normal girl! typical! thanks again for reading it, cheers nell


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

Hi Nell, I love the antique roadshow too and old paintings turning up out of the blue are often a highlight. As usual a privileged upbringing and education doesn't guarantee class. Crass is often the outcome and now that those spoilt Blakes have added greed to the equation they'll fight tooth and nail for the booty. A fifty fifty split does seem a fair outcome, although finders keepers was always the rule in my books. The Blakes can sit it out, but so can the Varneys', because right can often go the distance with might. This was an interesting, unfinished hub. See ya.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, attempted, hopefully I will be able to add the verdict to this, I hope the Varneys win the day, makes me so mad! lol thank you again, nell


sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 5 years ago

There's a lot of that disease called greed going around! And lying. I hope Selina wins in court.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

Unfortunately, wherever the painting ends up, the only people who will make money on the whole sorry saga are the lawyers for both sides.

I expect someone in The Blake family probably gave the picture away to a builder, or a retiring housekeeper.

It would be interesting if a third party came up with a claim, now that the matter has had such publicity.


Sister Mary profile image

Sister Mary 5 years ago from Isle of Man

Interesting story, thanks Nell for the great hub. My son actually told me about this a couple of days ago. I'm sure the Blakes need the money to repaint their swimming pool or for a service on the Bentley as much as Selina needs to educate her children! Split the money and enjoy it, I'd be happy with that if it were me.


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

Hi Nell, this tale reminds me of one that involved my brickie mate. It was on a much smaller scale, but it had an outcome. I'll have to ask him if he minds and scrub up on the details first though. Might take a while, but it's an amusing story. Cheers


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man

I think they should just share the money 50-50 as it is most of it going to their lawyers who don't deserve any of it! This another example of greed in action. Thank you for sharing this brilliantly written story.

Have you thought about self publishing your amazing stories? Slarty O'Brian has written a two part hub explaining how and it couldn't be simpler. You could also end up making a few extra bob.

Thank you Nell.


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man

BTW Sister Mary above is my wife and we are both great fans.


Susie Writes profile image

Susie Writes 5 years ago from Northern California

I don't think Selina should agree to a 50/50 split. If there had been a burglary, the police would have been called and an investigation launched. As I understand it, none of that happened. In other words, there was no burglary. Obviously the painting was thrown away. It was without a frame too. It's likely they removed the painting from the frame thinking the frame had more value and could be reused.

Sadly though, a wealthy family can afford a lot more in attorney fees than Selina's family and it seems that these days victory goes to those who can pay the most for it. It won't be a matter of justice. But I hope she wins it all.


SusieQ42 5 years ago

Ha! I just wrote a hub titled, "The Truth of the Matter is..." Perfect timing!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Sheila, nice to see you, yes I hope she wins, it seems that the more money they have the more greedy they get! unbelievable! cheers nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Christopher, that would put the cat among the pidgeons! I wish someone would come forward and just say they had thrown it away on the orders of the Blakes! ha ha


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa

This debacle about the painting of Winslow Homer, Children under a Palm Tree, is only one of many most interesting articles you have published, Nell. No wonder you have a permanent score of 100.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Mary, yes you are right! but I think Selina has just had about enough of the greed, so would rather go without than give it to the Blakes! go girl! lol thanks again

Hi, attempted, that sounds interesting, go get the story! ha ha actually something similar happened to me, where a certain bracelet was concerned! lol and guess who won the case? yep, me! thanks again nell

Hi, Spirit, thanks so much! I will go and check him out, and yes I did realise that Mary was your lovely wife, maybe you should put your photo up too? lol or even a shot of both of you as a couple, it would be lovely, thanks again nell

Hi, Susie Writes, yes you could be right! whoever took it obviously thought it was valuable, even if it was the frame! but I believe that they just threw it away when they were having a clear out! typical! hope Selina gets it sorted out, and comes out on top, thanks nell

Hi, Susie, great minds think alike! lol thanks for reading, cheers nell

Hi Martie, Aw thank you! lol I think it is probably just stuck on 100 because I do as I am told! ha ha seriously I think it is because I always read everybodies everywhere! not the writing! loads of people on here are amazing, including you, thanks so much nell


lilyfly 5 years ago

That grandson should be horsewhipped! As always, a superior read- love it Nell...lily


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

Well, I think this is a case of greed. Selina should be the lawful owner. Great story Nell. Thank's

Cheers


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

Oh gee, I don't know! If the people have proof that they have had the picture many years I would say it is theirs. I pick up paintings sometimes at sales and I often wonder without a receipt if I lucked into a treasure could the previous owners claim I stole it? May be! I have a plaque now dated in the 1800s, an advertisement, I have a good feeling about it but haven't checked it out yet. I keep all my things like that in storage though in case of fire etc, I may still have something! lol As usual, interesting write Nell!


Chatkath profile image

Chatkath 5 years ago from California

Wow, this really makes you think about human Nature - or the lack of. Good job Nell!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, lily, lol yes your right! it seems like he has the upper hand, he is a lawyer! but I hope Selina stands firm and tells him to go away! (politely!) lol thanks again nell

Hi, Ruby, greed always wins out! we shall see! thanks as always nell

Hi, Polly, I don't think they have proof, they have come up with some sort of diary now, but they had nothing to start with, and even if it was in their family, they threw it away! wonder how that works in the courts? strange situation though, thanks again nell

Hi, Chatkath, yes I agree with you, humans have a lot to answer too! thanks again nell


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

That's a tough choice - I hate it when people war over art. I always figure that the "true" person something like this should go to is the person who wants the best for the object. For more people to see and appreciate it. I believe that anyone seeking to recompense at the expense of art of any kind should never win - but then isn't the point of legal systems to make sure just the opposite happens?


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man

Hi Nell, that is my photo that I use. A student of mine took it and gave it to me as a gift. I have it framed at home.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

I love art and I love this hub very much. I know there are many fake paintings outside, even for masterpiece. I don't know why the people do this thing. But I think money is the main reason. Thank you very much for writing and share with us. Good job, Nell. Rated up as always.

Prasetio:)


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Greed always destroys any sense at all. If they would split the the money they avoid having all these court costs and they are not cheep. At the end all the money goes there.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Audrey, sorry it took me so long, been belting around this weekend! lol the painting should be appreciated for what it is, and in this case I believe that it is Selina, they had the picture for over twenty years, looking at it, appreciating it, then storing it safely, on the other hand, the Blakes just want it for the money!! greed greed greed! thanks as always, nell

Hi, Spirit, it is a good one, just wondered if you had one with your wife? (I am just nosy! ha ha )

Hi, Pras thank you as always, take care nell

Hi, Hello hello, yes you are so right! I must admit that Selina will have to decide one day whether to share it or not, hard decision though, but maybe it is time for her to put it behind her, and get on with her life, even though she has to half it, it would still be a lot of money, but I do understand where she is coming from! lol cheers nell


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

Mien Gott! A Homer painting found in an English trash dump! Finders keepers losers weepers is one thing; but 25%, how generous of the peerage family. My heart goes out to them. Nell, there's a reason why were celebrating the 4th. But on second thought that wouldn't have happened over here unless it was a Rockefeller or similar. So maybe we're not so different after all. Great hub as usual Ms. Nell and you do know about that josh on the misspelled word I hope.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Alastar, I think the painting should stay with Selina, personally, she did have it for 20 years, but as you say maybe we don't know all the facts, and yes I got the spelling thing! lol I got in a temper with him! hee hee thanks again nell


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

YOUR AN AWESOME WOMAN! Got an excuse today for a lack of inhibition but its truly, truly true!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, ha ha don't know about that! did you mean I have a lack of inhibition, or you?! lol if so, what have you been up too?! ha ha


SilverGenes 5 years ago

Fascinating situation! I'm a bit shocked that there is any question about ownership. It was in a garbage heap! Anyway, great read, Nell!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, SilverGenes, exactly! but somehow the greedy Blakes found out it was worth something and out of the woodwork they came! lol thanks for reading, cheers nell


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia

Hi Nell what a great story. As usual the lawyers will finish up with the bulk of the money lol

But here is an interesting twist to ponder: In my state most of the 'rubbish dumps' are owned by private contractors and as such when 'stuff' is put on the 'rubbish dump property' the ownership is transferred to the owner of the dump.

In this case maybe the dump owner has a claim on the painting?


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, agvulpes, I never thought of that! mind you, they did say when they found the painting it was actually just outside the site, hang on a minute! maybe that's why they said it was on the outside! Umm! maybe there is more to this story than I thought! lol thanks again nell


mariasial profile image

mariasial 5 years ago from united kingdom

Great story Neil and i agree with your opinion;

if nothing is yet decided they should divide the money in 2 equal parts.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, maria, yes I think that is probably the best thing to do, at least it will get it all finished one way or another, thanks for reading cheers nell


C-Bless profile image

C-Bless 5 years ago from Canada

A most interesting article, and a great read. Whenever greed rears its ugly head, there's always drama. I'm rooting for Selina and her family. I wasn't aware of this story so, thank you for sharing...


angoliver profile image

angoliver 5 years ago

Hi Nell, what an interesting story, thanks for sharing! I sure do hope the Varney's win, besides, Tony Varney was the one who found and protected the painting all these years. It just amazes me of how the Blake family has never said a word about this painting until now. Wow, 20 years later? All I can say is... greed and lies.


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

Ha ha Nell! It was the holiday week-end and the inhibition-less one was me. And your still and forever more An Awesome Woman!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, C bless, it is a strange story, holding onto a painting for 20 years and then all the so called real owners pop up! greed! thanks for reading, cheers nell

Hi, angoliver, maybe they should have just kept the painting, or sold it without taking it to the roadshow, then the Blakes wouldn't have known anything about it! thanks for reading, cheers nell

Hi, Alastar, I wonder if the inhibition was caused through a few bevvies? (English speak for drink! lol) and thank you for calling me an Awesome Woman, nobody has done that for a while! hee hee actually not for a long while....! lol


agusfanani profile image

agusfanani 5 years ago from Indonesia

It's a great story. Selina should get her right from the painting selling, or if the dispute can't be settled, the Blakes is the one who deserve 25% of the sale.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Another example of freed at its best. That family didn't care about an apparently worthless painting but won't allow it to bless the people who rescued it. They are showing their true colors. Money cannot buy class. Selina deserves all of the money.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, agusfanani, I quite agree, if anybody should get the 25 percent it should be the Blakes, greed really annoys me! lol thanks for reading, cheers nell

Hi, Hyphenbird, exactly! money definitely cannot buy class, I hope it works out just fine for the rightful owners, and they are not the Blakes! cheers nell


jade 5 years ago

Simon's mother is not Mrs Blake, she is not from male descendant of the Blake family. I suspect she could not produce any legal evident that she ever owned the painting in the first place, such as will, house content insurance. I was surprised that Sothebys stopped the auction without seeing the crucial evidence of ownership.


jade 5 years ago

what infuriated me more is at the end of the programme, Simmon Murray produced the letter wrote by Lady Edith Blake of the children's party, all very touchy. It only explained the circumstane of the painting not the ownership. Lady Edith could have given the painting to any of her children, 2 sons and one daughter,or a devoted nanny right?

Simmon then said we want it back and keep it as a part of family history. He never intented to give Silena a penny.


Leo 5 years ago

Surely, A homer is worth mentioning in the will!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Jade, thanks for reading it, sorry if I have been misinformed about Mrs Blake, If there is anything that I can update, let me know and I will change it. I totally agree with you, I watched the programme and I really got so annoyed that's why I wrote this, I do hope that Selina and her family do get the painting, and can sell it, it does seem so unfair, thanks again nell

Hi, Leo, I totally agree! I can't understand how someone can suddenly appear out of knowhere and stake a claim, Selina should stick it out, then maybe the others will give up their claim, but I doubt it! thanks for reading, cheers nell


Rebecca 5 years ago

Is there anyone who knows the outcome from the last negotiation, that where scheduled in July? I am so curious if Selina and Tony won at last.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Rebecca, I can't seem to find out any more info, I will keep looking, and if I find it I will update this hub, okay? thanks for reading, cheers nell


Robyne 5 years ago

I am shocked at the apalling way that young man behaved...and his suggestions that he understood Selina's disappointment because she probably thought she was going to buy a new car or somehting. What a partonising jerk. I would willingly contribute to a fund to help Selina continue her legal fight. She is a dignified and courageous young woman...and he appears to be a fraud. So, just because you have provenance for the pic doesn't mean you own it. How come he never noticed it had disappeared 20 years ago but only when he saw the multiple $$$$ signs that he started his blackmailing 10 minutes before the auction.Despicable!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Robyne, thank you for commenting, I quite agree with you, the way he handled the situation was disgusting, the whole world knows he is trying to con Selina out of the sale, he even said at the beginning he wanted to sell the painting for money! It just goes to show what sort of world he is living in, if he believes Selina wants the money for a new car or swimming pool! She has children for goodness sake! that would help them to go to college and maybe learn a trade. I hope it turns out alright for her, I will have to go and keep an eye out and update this when I have more info, thanks nell


Tiffany Martin 5 years ago

One would imagine a catalogue of all art works belonging to the Myrtle Grove residence would exist.

There is no mention of any other paintings of course Lady Edith an amateur artist herself evidently having a great appreciation art (and artists) would have had numerous valuable and greatly sentimental personal and commissioned pieces?

Where and what was the contents of the portfolio?

Simons theory is all over the place – didn’t know; don’t want to know; who knows?? But more than likely Simon probably had a garage sale/ yard sale with no appreciation for any of the Myrtle Grove possessions he knows nothing but greed.

Anyone with great standing lineage of this calibre would never stoop so low to take from a mother who has shown mercy to a neglected piece of paper containing - a picture illustrating children. No monetary value sort when found but merely family idealism.

I would say Simon Murray the great grandson of this fairytale is nothing more than a gluttonous pig with no principles who has no remorse or compassion for this situation or people involved.


Barb 5 years ago

It won't cost the Blakes much for a lawyer as the rude, ignorant great great granson is one! How pompous is he? Go for it Selina. Get the nmoney and use it for your family. All the best.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Thank you Tiffany and Barb, for your comments and reading, I quite agree, Simon may have breeding and wealth but obviously manners weren't in the package! Just for his own dignity he should drop the whole thing, he reminds me of a dog with a bone in its mouth! screaming, its mine, its mine! pathetic! thanks again nell


No Artist 5 years ago

Maybe if Tony Varney, the gentleman who had 'found' the pictures had reported it to the Garda - the Irish Police - as you do when you find a wallet or other items of value, then maybe this whole situation would not have arisen. As Mr.Varney was a pains to point out, that he did not find the paintings at or in the dump but outside the confines of the dump, maybe if Mr. Varney had thought more about who did have a claim on the paintings, as opposed to who didn't have a claim on the pictures, then this matter might have been resolved earlier. However, What disturbs me about your article, is the lack of balance when considering both parties, indeed,your article is wholly biased towards Selina Varney and you portray Mr. Murray and his family as greedy fat cats with spurious claims to the pictures. Indeed, Mr. Murray and co. seemed to have had their rights - whatever they are - expunged due to their social status and Mr. Murray's profession. Whereas, you imbue Selina Varney with propriety rights due to her lack of social station. The courts and English justice or maybe Irish justice will have to figure this one out. Just let me state, I'm not a Toff, I'm not a lawyer and I don't own no grand country estate, I'm working class but I like to think of myself as being fair and unbiased. Report the facts, not your own prejudices.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, No Artist, I appreciate your comments, and in some sense I do agree. However Tony Varney found the picture covered in mud and thrown on the ground. Obviously it had been taken to the dump but had somehow ended up on the ground just outside. Probably people had trampled it and maybe caught it on their shoes. Answer me a question? Would you report an old painting covered in mud, from a dump to the police? Thought not. You have to remember that there was 20 years between finding the painting and trying to sell it! you obviously haven't watched the tv programme or you would be aware of the fact that even the painting experts more or less said that Mr Murray was lying! I have reported as the tv programme stated it, nothing more, and nothing less, the comments above will show other peoples reaction to this situation too. Mr Murray more or less admitted that he wanted the painting only to sell it, and at first said that he knew nothing of the painting! then he retracted and said he did know of the painting and it was stolen! but thank you for your opinion, I agree we should have a balanced comment section, nell


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BeatsMe 5 years ago

Goes to show that there are a lot of lies in this world, even rich people lie for money. If they weren't informed about its value, they wouldn't have cared for it. Money talks, all the time. :)


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

HI, BeatsMe, yes you are so right, I actually looked up his site to see where he lives etc, and evidently they open the doors to the paying public every summer! can't be that poor then! there argument is that, 'our house takes such a lot of up keep, we need the money' well, if you are broke sell the family home like me and my brother had too! no sympathy from me! lol thanks as always, nell


No Artist 5 years ago

Sounds like class war to me.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, No Artist, maybe you are right, but I think it is greed that is pushing the whole thing. desperation on the part of Simon because he wants to live the same way he has always lived, and Selena because all she wants to do is give her children a good start in life. it will be interesting to see what happens. personally I think they should just split the money down the middle and get on with their lives. greed is a funny thing, maybe Selina is beginning to get tainted with it too, thanks again


No Artist 5 years ago

I agree, neither knew what they really had, but I don't see either of them moving, so in the end, the only winners will be Southebys and the lawyers. I have to admit, I didn't like the picture, I preferred Mr. Murray's gg grandmother's paintings and I would like to think he pursues the other, less valuable items with the same vigour he has put into regaining the Winslow Homer. I had a look at Myrtle Grove on the net and I'm not sure whatever money Mr Murray gets from the sale of the watercolour, will go far in maintaining that 'money pit'. It looks as the real-estate people say, 'a fixer upper'. :(


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, No Artist, I agree, that picture will stay there for as long as it takes, and the one thing that was puzzling me is how is Selena going to pay for the ongoing legal fees? if this keeps going, even if she is given the painting, the whole of the money she earns will go to them! I think Myrtle Grove is as you said. It literally must take thousands for the upkeep of the place. I tried looking online to see if there is any results out yet, but don't seem to be able to find anything. If I do, I will keep you posted, thanks again nell


c1234rystal profile image

c1234rystal 5 years ago

This painting should certainly go to the family who found it. They did save it and the Blakes don't really have any connection to the painting's subjects. Sure, they MIGHT be ancestors, but they never knew The Children Under a Palm and it seems never had any interest in them before this valuable piece was discovered.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, crystal, I quite agree, it will be interesting to see exactly what happens, it doesn't seem to be coming up on the internet, but I will have another look, thanks!


Albert 5 years ago

Whoever separated the discarded painting from its frame must have thought the frame was worth more than the painting and they probably never heard of Homer who had some fame in the U.S.

Proving the children are from the Blake family does not prove they own it.

As I said earlier the painting many have been legally sold by a descendant of the Blake's and for a deserved low price, it's nothing special. I think many people today don't necessarily place sentimental value on possessions passed to them but only monetary value. It was a water color in need of restoration, I would have certainly discarded it, without knowing its history.


Albert 5 years ago

Harper's magazine often did not cite Winslow Homer as the artist for pictures that they published. He was sometimes referred to as their "Special Artist".

Winslow started as an illustrator who became a self taught artist.

When the ''three children under the palm tree'' was painted in 1885, there was no reason to assume Winslow was a great painter. He was able to support himself by 1900 and this is after the Blakes returned. So it seems to me the painting was just an illustration in water color that would not have had a commercial value.

The value comes now and well after Homer's death. During the early ownership of this painting, it wasn't valuable and may have been easily sold by a descendant of the Blakes.

It was never reported stolen and if they knew it was stolen, why would they bother, it was worthless.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Albert, I never thought of that, of course, it makes sense. We always believe that a painting has always had a value, and of course this isn't so, yes I agree, it was sold off years ago, and forgotten about. If only this could be proved then the whole case would fall to pieces. Thanks for taking time to comment, nell


Albert 5 years ago

If the painting was stolen (and separated from the frame), why wasn't it destroyed, why was it placed on a rubbish tip where the possible theft could start a police investigation.

The finder did not rush out to have it framed, it spent many years in an attic. The signature on the painting is the one and only thing that gives it a good value and it took an expert to recognise it and have it authenticated.

It seems the Blake descendants never had the painting valued, they must have thought it was a worthless watercolor. My paintings are valued and insured.

Where's the frame? Did the police investigate? Is it framing other (better) art at Myrtle Grove? do any of Blake's descendants have it?

Was the painting or its frame sold to pay for the maintenance of Myrtle Grove?

Simon Murray can't prove a theft nor explain its disappearance, so the only possible conclusion is that it was sold or given away as a gift.

When Murray presented a dossier of old letters to the Fake or Fortune presenters, he was only confirming what we already knew, it was an authentic portrait, he was trying to assert that confirms ownership.


Albert 5 years ago

If a painting is stolen, report it to Police then visit the Art Loss Register website, it's so easy.

Normally with household property insurance, the Homer painting should have been listed otherwise no insurance company would refund its value if it was stolen or lost in a fire. I doubt there is any record the family owned it when it was found at the rubbish tip. Certainly it's an authentic family portrait, but Selina is the rightful owner and the family represented by Simon Murray should pay all her legal costs. However as we all know, the Courts aren't fair.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Albert you have some good points there, if they can trace the original frame then they will see what exactly happened, for example taken off the painting, then throw it away, and add a new one placing this on the dump. What gets me the most is that if Simon wasn't a lawyer or solicitory, he would have lost this case a long time ago, the courts should decide, if they have any sense whatsoever that Selina is the rightful owner, thanks again nell


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JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

So if a Bill Gates or a Steve Jobs had agreed to pose for me back when they were nobodies as practice for the photography class I was taking in college, and now they're really really famous and I'm a long dead world-famous photographer and Sotheby's is going to auction the photo for my kids, can the Gates kids or Jobs' widow claim ownership and stop the sale? I know it's not *quite* the same, but makes about as much legal sense as the Blakes coming forward and trying to bilk Selina for no other reason than they're greedy pond scum. I hope she wins!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Some Homers, btw, have sold for 2 million pounds! After googling other stories about this mess, I'm of the opinion that Simon Murray and his mother attach NO familial sentimental value to the Homer, know all the publicity will drive up the price, and have every intention of selling it the minute they can get their greedy little hands on it. Therefore, the "cleanest" way to have settled the dispute early on would have been for Murray to pay Selina 150,000 pounds after she signed away any right to the painting.

As it is, he's just showing the world how little the family knew about the contents of Myrtle House. Supposedly the place was burgled several times in the '80s, but never reported. Hello.

One blog even claims Selina and her father **knew** the Homer was stolen and simply hid it for 20 years until it could be sold without attracting attention. The flaw in THAT theory is obvious. Even the dumbest of thieves wouldn't take a piece of stolen artwork to a wildly popular TV program like Antiques Roadshow, let alone place it with Sotheby's.


No Artist 5 years ago

Nell, unless you can prove the Blakes/Murrays have propagated this claim that Selina and/or her father knew the painting to be stolen, I would have thought it a little reckless to defame a lawyer and his family in such a public forum.

I wonder when Youghal's Town Council will stake it's claim - maybe when the picture's value hits a million quid (sorry, 1137573.21 euros)?

Ciao


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, No Artist, yes you are right, I think the reason why I let everybody have free reign is because I have read on other sites about this more or less the same kind of comments, but I agree, I will go back and check to see if there are any I should take off, not sure about the Euro's we don't have them here we have pounds, thanks again nell


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Nell, don't waste your time checking to see if you should remove anyone's comment here. My guess is No Artist is a TROLL just trying to stir up trouble where there is none. He/she/IT is no doubt referring to MY comment, and would do well to re-read it. Nowhere in it do *I* claim the Blake/Murrays propagated the story that Selina and/or her father knew the painting was stolen, etc. I only passed on what I read on a blog by someone with NO connection to Hubpages.

Unless someone can show different, what I said in no way violates HP's TOS nor does it in ANY way constitute **actionable slander** (the legal term, I believe) by myself OR you as the author of the hub.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Jama, to be sure I took a couple of my comments off, not quite sure whether I myself said anything, but the facts stand, so it should be okay, I don't think he was referring to you specifically probably most of us, as you say there are so many blogs out there that are saying worse! I will keep my comments until the Blakes ask me to take them down! thanks again nell


Albert 5 years ago

To suggest that Selina and her father knew the painting was stolen is farcical. If the painting was legally disposed of, then one might suggest the 'theft' is with the other party. The facts are clear, Simon Murray can not prove theft nor what happened to the painting while in the care of the previous owner and it is they who smelled the cash when the painting went to auction. Why did they wait till the last moment? why did they involve lawyers? a legal bill could be more than the value of the painting. Personally, the painting is nothing special.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Albert, I think you got the wrong idea, we both agree that the painting should go to Selina, and that the Blakes are just greedy. Jama, above was referring to another site that I have read as well, not hubpages just another one that wrote about this story, and they are saying that they believe Selina's father knew it was stolen, its a load of rubbish, unless Selina was psychic it wouldn't even cross their minds, why wait twenty years?!! and then go on tv? I don't know who wrote the other article but they seriously need to get their facts right, so Jama, above was just stating that the article writer was obviously slightly out of touch with reality! lol we hope Selina wins, its about time it got sorted out, cheers nell


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Well said, Nell! ;D


No Artist 5 years ago

Hi Nell, I seemed to have ignited some rather high and unsavoury feelings amongst some of your bloggers, that wasn't my intention. However, the general consensus of this site seems to be that the Blakes and in particular Mr Murray are loathsome 'fat cats' and therefore should strung up by the thumbs and/or pillared in the stocks. But I wonder if we would feel the same if the Homer Winslow painting had been removed from our home? I doesn't matter that Selina or her father didn't remove it from the house, the fact is that it had been removed. I remember having my shed broken into and it didn't look like anything was stolen but it was only when I went to find particular tools that I realised that they had been taken, indeed, I may only find out that others tools have been stolen, when I look for them in the future. If the picture had been sold via dealer and not been exhibited on the Antiques Roadshow, and all that followed, would the Blakes have known the painting and the other articles were missing - probably not. But just because you don't know your stuff has been nicked, doesn't mean, it isn't yours. I go back to an earlier point, if Selina's father had taken the folder to the police, as you should do, this matter would have solved years ago. The Blakes would either have claimed the picture as their own, or informed the police who the picture had been sold/given to or informed the police that they had thrown it out and Selina's dad was welcome to it. The fact Selina's dad didn't take this course of action, makes me think he didn't find it outside the rubbish dump but rather within the confines of the dump. Why else wouldn't you do the honest thing and take it to the police?


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, no problem, we are all entitled to our own beliefs about this. did you actually see the TV program? on there Simon said that not only was it not stolen and reported, he also said that he didn't even know of its existance until the Antique road show got in touch with him. Also Selina and her dad said that the painting was without a frame and just chucked on the floor, I have seen the exact area on tv, and it is outside the dump, in fact it is right along the water front where they went fishing, probably got stuck on someones shoes I would expect, and dragged out of the yard, they had no reason to go into the dump, as it was up a long drive way and around the back of the buildings, but the gate and place where they found it was by the river, the tv people walked the route to prove their point, you have to remember that the TV people who were involved in the sale of the painting all believed Selina and her father, in fact Simon and the rest of the Blakes told a barefaced lie to the TV Antique Dealer, saying that the Dealer had not been in contact with the blakes, when in fact, on camera the Dealer was very angry and said empathically that he had, he was fuming! so, even the antique dealers, tv people and selina and her father all know he was lying, thanks again nell


No Artist 5 years ago

I don't think we did watch the same program, but I'm not going to go into that but rather, for the second time, you have ignored the fact that Tony Varney is wholly responsible for all that has transpired, since the painting was 'found'. If Varney had acted as an honest man, this matter would have been resolved to everyone's sanctification twenty years ago, but he didn't. Nell, you will be glad to hear that this the last time I'll visit your blog and have to put my reasons down, as the lack of balance in this story and your biased to those more fortunate than yourself. Nell, I'm surprised that you haven't organised the 'peasants', with flaming torches in hand, to storm Myrtle Grove and divvy up the rest of the Blakes possessions. Personally, I hope both parties show some common sense and agree to a fifty/fifty split, before all the money, this silly painting would fetch, is blown on legal fees. "Goodbye and thanks for all the nice fish."


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, sorry you feel like that but the facts stand.

1. The painting had been thrown away.

2. The blakes said on camera that they had not had a robbery.

3. have you never found anything in a bin that you have taken home? this was a tatty picture thrown away with lots of other cheap pictures, it was one of about 10 that he found, just chucked on the floor.

4. Simon admitted that if it wasn't worth anything he didn't want it.

5. and last of all Simon lied and lied again on Camera to such an extent that even the TV Dealers thought it was disgusting.

6. Simon insulted Selina by saying, 'she just wants to buy lots of cars and swimming pools'! nothing about bringing her children up to have a better future.

7. Simon said, 'mother just happened to be here, and happened to spot it in a newspaper'! Lie. She had been informed weeks before but said she wasn't interested.

Its nothing to do with how rich or poor you are. its to do with fairness. The Blakes could have split that money down the middle by now, but no, greed makes them want nearly all of it.

The main fact again is, it was on or near the dump. It had not been stolen. Fact.

The blakes probably threw it away themselves. now they want it back. or maybe the people living there before them sold it, and they threw it away later after thinking it was worthless.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Yes, it's all about fairness. But I must address No Artist's contention that the Varneys should have taken the artwork they found outside the dump to the police. I can't think of any local-level law enforcement agency with the time or resources to accept *every* discarded painting, watercolor or pen and ink drawing in case it's stolen. It's not LE's job to verify the provenance of artwork UNLESS the original owner has reported a theft AND listed the items taken **in a reasonable amount of time after the event**. No claim of theft was made by the Blakes until they learned, 20-some years later, that the Homer WAS a Homer and therefore worth a lot of money.

This is where personal responsibility comes in. The Blakes had no idea a valuable painting of their ancestors by a famous artist was even gone until 20-some years later? Come on. No previous generation had ever inventoried the contents of the house (or had them appraised) for tax or insurance purposes? Puhleaze.

And why have no household staff at the time of the supposed "thefts" come forward or been sought out for interviews? The lord or lady of the manor might not have any recollection of the circumstances surrounding the disposition of an art object, but you can bet the maid who had to dust it every day would certainly remember what frame a painting was in and where it hung in the house. Unless, of course, the Homer had been relegated to the attic or the cellar decades ago as being of "no value" so the frame could be re-used, and then discarded in a clean out by a new generation.

Which I'm thinking is precisely what happened here. The old Lord of the Manor dies, the kiddies take over, staff is ordered to "get rid of all that old stuff", and at least one very valuable painting ends up on the trash heap. Had the Varneys no come along, the Homer would've succumbed to the elements and been lost forever.

The descendants of Sir Henry are living proof that class has *nothing* to do with "breeding" or the size of one's bank account. REAL class is doing the "honorable* thing regardless of the amount of money involved.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Bravo'! couldn't of said it better myself! lol


Mark (from Canada) 5 years ago

The sad truth is that Murray has the power to prevent any future sale, but not the proof to say that the painting wasn’t given away or traded for “services” or thrown in the garbage. He won’t take her to court because he can not win, but he will not let her sell if he can get something out of it. Unfortunately, eventually, he will wear her down.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Mark, thanks for reading, I believe you are right, the one advantage I suppose is that the more valuable the painting gets, the more money will be involved. So then hopefully Selina and her family will accept a percentage of the Sale which will come to a lot more than the original 30,000 pounds that she hoped for in the first place, thanks nell


Albert 5 years ago

Simon Murray looks a lot like the child on the right, square head, ear lobes, hair and face. I have little doubt he is from the same family.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Albert, nice to hear from you again, maybe you are right, I wish I could find out more info, but it seems to have dried up, but I will update when I can find anything, okay? have a great day, nell


Bloodhound 4 years ago

Your opinion seems well supported as the previous owner of Myrtle Grove died in 1989 slightly before the painting was found and it seems likely that the Murrays disposed of it in a clean out. see: The lie of the land: journeys through literary Cork - Page 36 http://books.google.com.au/books?id=PL1YhI3Rp1cC&p...


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Bloodhound, thanks for the link, that does explain a lot if that's what happened, I do wish they would just split the money, seems to me that the more money and power someone has the less they feel for the unfortunate other person, maybe being more rich makes the person more greedy! I will take a look at the link, and thanks again, nell


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Nell, I followed Bloodhound's link to the book at google, which - surprise? - tickled my genealogical curiosity. It might make it a bit easier to keep this mess straight if one knows who begat who.

The BLAKEs relationship to Simon MURRAY begins on p. 2190 at thepeerage.com:

Sir Henry Authur BLAKE & Edith Bernal-Osbourne (Lady Blake)

..(dau) Olive BLAKE m. Maj. "Jack" ARBUTHNOT

....(grandson) Bernard ARBUTHNOT m. Rosemary Thompson

......(gr-granddau) Shirley ARBUTHNOT & Ormiston MURRAY

........(gr-gr-gson) Simon MURRAY, b. 2 Aug 1974

Olive Blake is the figure in the center of the Winslow Homer. Her younger brothers, Maurice and Arthur, are on either side.

Olive's mother Edith (Lady Blake) was an artist, and the family always assumed "Children Under The Palm Tree" was *her* work. Therefore I can't help but chuckle that the three paintings the Varneys found with the Homer *were* hers but which appraisers at Antiques Roadshow deemed of "no value"!

Olive's dau Patricia, younger sister of Bernard, and husband Francis COCKBURN were parents of Patrick COCKBURN. Patrick, great-grandson of Sir Henry and Edith (Lady Blake), relates some rather interesting information about them and the Homer at

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/ar...

However, I can find no explanation for why Patricia inherited Myrtle Grove before her older brother Bernard, grandfather of Simon Murray. It wasn't until Patricia died in 1989 that it finally went to Bernard's dau Shirley and/or her son Simon. Perhaps Bernard never wanted anything to do with Myrtle Grove or anything in it??? Just a thought... ;D


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, wow! thanks, I did take a quick look, but I had so much to do yesterday and today, I never really got around to figuring it out. Now it makes sense, to a certain degree, I never realised that the other paintings were so important! thanks for sorting it out for me! lol! I will go and take a look at your link, and thanks again, nell


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

The Murrays cutting Selena Varney out of all but a pittance of the profits from the sale of the Homer - IF it is ever sold - makes sense when you know that Edith, Lady Blake, once tried to take possession, at gunpoint, of a house once owned by her side of the family she believed she should've inherited, but was sold to an "outsider" instead. It was the new owner she confronted at gunpoint.

Sotheby's, btw, cancelled the auction of the Homer at the last minute because, in light of the ownership dispute between the Murrays and the Varneys, they wouldn't be able to guarantee a clear title to the highest bidder if the auction took place. This is standard policy for an institution of Sotheby's standing, not a result of last-minute pressure from the Murrays. Really no different than a real estate agent having to withdraw a deceased's house from the market when heirs are contesting the will.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, JamaGenee, sorry it took so long for me to come back, I have been writing all day, and in emails to the resipients mother too, so I didn't answer because I was getting tied up in a knot over photos! lol! After reading about Edith, nothing suprises me! but I do understand about Sotheby's, they have to do it by the book, wish something would pop up on google though, I want to know what's happened! lol! thanks again nell


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Nell, no need to apologize. Yes, I wish something new would pop up on google, too, but think a chat with Patrick Cockburn would be MUCH more enlightening. ;D


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi,JamaGenee, yes your right! but still I am going to be keeping an eye out for anything, won't give up on it! lol!


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

This was such an interesting hub Nell! I do see how both sides could feel that they were in the right--but it is a shame to have the fighting go on for so long!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Audrey, I totally agree, I believe greed is beginning to take hold of both of the parties now, surely they can get it sorted out some way? It's such a shame that a beautiful painting is hidden away like this, thanks so much for reading, cheers nell


Caroe 4 years ago

Just watched a re-run of the BBC programme and having done due diligence I was wondering whether the same due diligence was accorded to the so called letters of proof of authenticity.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Nell, either you added the photo of Simon Murray since I was last here or I simply missed it in previous visits, politeness prevents me from saying exactly what his expression and body language reminds me of. So "public school boy brought up on a steady diet of generational greed who'll never grasp the true value of a pound (dollar) as anything but a method of measuring self-worth" will have to suffice. ;D


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Caroe, yep totally agree! Wasn't it such a wonderful coincidence that he 'happened' to find proof, and he 'happened' to use the words literally reading out that the costume was like this, and they sat there and so on, I have one word for that, bunkum! lol! thanks for reading, nell


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Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Jama nice to see you, I was going to come over to your hubs the other day, and then totally forgot! lol! My left handedness, and my right brain, that's what I blame it on! Yes I totally agree, he has that typical smug self rightous look on his face as if to say, me, me, me, never ever you! as my mum would have said, he looks like he has a dirty smell under his nose! the rest of us commoners! haha! thanks as always, be over shortly, nell


Dave 4 years ago

i personally believe if somone lies when money is involved that's fraud for finacial gain.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Thanks for your input Dave, I totally agree.


k. Early 4 years ago

The hand written paper describing what the children wore on that day, etc.

is a bit too convenient. There are professional forgers right down to the paper and ink.....so even that should be authenticated. The collution in this matter is incredible from the top to the bottom. We just want Selena to be proven the rightful owner of which she obviously is. Talk about

David and the giant. People with power and money can be hideously dangerous and cruel. They all hold hands under the table and now on top.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi k. Early, I totally agree. Watching it on tv I sat there completely amazed at how the sudden 'evidence' popped up! it was so obvious that it was false, nobody in their right mind would have written that much detail, the colour of the clothes, who sat where, and so on. It was a wonder that they never mentioned what they had for tea! or who took the dog for a walk! yes, David and Goliath. It should be sorted out by now, greed isn't helping the fact that the picture is still sitting there. Thanks for reading, cheers nell


Guest 4 years ago

Just caught a rerun. As an American- It was fascinating to see a well known American artist being fought over in this very unlikely case. I think it's finder's keepers here. If you clean house and put your belongings in a dump, you've just given it up to public domain. The Varneys just have to prove that it was on the direct orders of the owner. The Varneys might not have known who Winslow Homer was to begin with, but clearly they saw beauty in the water colour and even the sketches by old Ms. Blake when they salvaged it outside a dump. Whereas the descendents of the Blakes were more concerned about opening their estate up for summer tourism. My first impression when Sotheby stopped the auction at the last minute was they were trying to pull a fast one on Selina. I understand that Sotheby was in a delicate position, especially after the great grandson embarrassingly admitted to being a lawyer who just conveniently happened to be vacationing in NYC. He really got me with the line about how Selina probably wants to build a pool and buy some cars.... Wow! Really? Is that what he thinks working class people are all about? And then those letters describing the painting; whether real or fraudulent- its so sad that it takes a thing like money to get the Blake descendants interested in their great grandmother's writing. If I could read even my grandfather's correspondences from his younger days, I would read them with relish and feel blessed- and without any monetary motivation.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi Guest, I totally agree with you about the fact that they only wanted the money back in the family and there was and is no interest in the painting. Yes the grandson being a lawyer was really convenient for them, and I don't believe for one minute that they did actually suddenly 'find' the 'proof'. If that was true why not say all that in the first place? He actually admitted that they wanted it for the money. It just goes to show how ignorant the rich people are to actually think that working class people want a pool! Its beyond belief that people actually don't realise there are some families out there that want a good life for their children and just put food on the table, it must be lovely to have never gone without! I just wish they would find it in their hearts to actually have, well, a heart and maybe split the money down the middle. Greed just feeds greed. Thanks so much for reading, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi Guest, I totally agree with you about the fact that they only wanted the money back in the family and there was and is no interest in the painting. Yes the grandson being a lawyer was really convenient for them, and I don't believe for one minute that they did actually suddenly 'find' the 'proof'. If that was true why not say all that in the first place? He actually admitted that they wanted it for the money. It just goes to show how ignorant the rich people are to actually think that working class people want a pool! Its beyond belief that people actually don't realise there are some families out there that want a good life for their children and just put food on the table, it must be lovely to have never gone without! I just wish they would find it in their hearts to actually have, well, a heart and maybe split the money down the middle. Greed just feeds greed. Thanks so much for reading, nell


R May 4 years ago

At this point I would burn the painting and send the lying little twit the ashes. The "documentation" he came up with at the last minute was an obvious forgery. I am a bit surprised that Southebys didn't call him out on that fact.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi R May, thanks for reading, yes I totally agree with you. I think it has gone on too long now, as for the documentation it was so obvious that it was fake, I do wish the bbc would do a follow up programme. I have tried looking for new articles about it, but it seems to have disappeared now, thanks again, nell


K. Dreitlein 4 years ago

As background, I first viewed the Public TV program on "Children Under a Palm Tree" last night and am not familiar with any of the involved parties. I am surprised that no one has yet mentioned Sotheby's lack of involvement in this matter. Establishment of provenance is the prime issue and identification of the last owner prior to the painting's disposal at the dump is critical.

Sotheby's representative said they searched for a police record and found none. In my mind, lacking a theft report indicates the painting is the property of Selina. The Blake family must have first disposed of the painting (probably not as a gift) but it eventually was considered and disposed of as garbage. Sotheby's must confront Simon Murray's allegation of theft and ask specifically when it was stolen, demand (not ask for) a copy of the police report and interview the family and anyone else who had access to their house. They should also ask for records which establish the dates when they actually had possession of the painting (insurance policies, photographs, etc.). It seems reasonable that the family bought the painting from Homer since that was his how he made his living, so one has to ask who had possession for the next 104 years. Further, since this very valuable painting found near a dump, Southeby's could have reasonably expected that without a rigourously reseached provenance, ownership would indeed be questioned at some point so why did they schedule an auction without the fully documented provenance?

I believe Southerby's has to take the lead in resolving this matter since clearly Selina does not have the financial or professional (legal) resources. Clearly, Mr. Murray who appears to be weathly, will delay resolution by obfuscation and distortion of the truth to satisfy what seems to be his insatiable greed.

Southeby's reputation has thus been challenged: anyone of meager means who does not have a documentated provenance of a potential valuable antique will take pause before listing with them as they could be could be subjected to the same ordeal and possible unfair outcome as Selina.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Thank you K. Dreitlein, yes I totally agree with you. Sotheby's did take rather a strange stand on the matter. I did think at the time of viewing myself, that it was odd that they didn't really look into what was where and when. Mr. Murray should really be taken to task on this, and the painting of the sale should go to Selina. It really is silly after all this time, surely they can come to some agreement now? thank you for reading, nell


remaniki profile image

remaniki 4 years ago from Chennai, India

Hi Nell,

Just found this hub and went through it only to be shocked beyond words. I feel sorry for Selina and think that she is the sole and rightful owner of the painting that she had preserved for 20 long years but for whose effort a great painting would have long been destroyed.

You have described the news story extremely well Nell. Sharing it as I always do on finding a great hub because I think that the others also should know about this controversy and vote. Cheers, Rema.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi remaniki, yes that's it exactly, Selina and her family looked after the painting for so many years, and it would have been ruined years ago. Maybe they should charge rental for it! I mean they kept it in their house all those years, Mr. Murray owes them rental space money! maybe half a million?! lol! thanks so much for reading, cheers nell


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

I think billing the Blakes for storage of the painting for all those years is QUITE appropriate under the circumstances! ;D


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi Jama, nice to see you! lol! yes they should price it at a thousand dollars a week! or as its over here, a thousand pounds, thanks for popping over, nell


Sherry 3 years ago

I just saw this show in the US. The first episode about the Monet made me so angry, I had really hoped this episode would have a happier ending. I ended up even more angry than before. People with wealth and power rule the art world as well as everything else apparently and it is deeply sickening.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Thanks Sherry, yes I totally agree with you. I remember when I first saw this tv program a few months ago I was so angry. Just the look on Simons face was greed greed greed! he even more or less admitted that he wanted the painting to sell it to get the money! yet he lives in a great big mansion! what got me most was his remark about Selina, ' She only wants the money for a swimming pool and cars etc'! how thick are these rich people? couldn't he see Selina had children? on the other hand maybe that's how the rich treat their kids! the swimming pool comes first, and the kids dinner comes second!! thanks for reading, nell


Javabear1 3 years ago

It's obvious that once thrown out into a public dump, it's public property. To even conceive that the former (possible) owner can come back and claim it, is reprehensive. What a crock.

The current owner, IS the owner. period.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Java, yes expecially after twenty years! its beyond belief isn't it? thanks for reading, nell


Fred Nielsen 3 years ago

Just watched this again, We don't call people like the Blakes "entitled" for no reason, They feel their entitled to everything. Hope the greedy sod rots in Hell for trying to steal this painting!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Thanks Fred, and yes I totally agree with you. I wish I could find out what has happened since, but its not coming up on the Internet, but I will update as soon as I get any info, thanks for reading, nell


my theory 3 years ago

The brothers in the painting, dressed like fruitqueens, hated the painting obviously. They kept it hidden. Instead of destroying it leaving remnants, the last surviving brother got rid of it the best way he could, leaving his descendants the possibility of collecting insurance.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Thanks for your comments, you may well be right there, hopefully one of these days they will sort it out, hopefully on the right side!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 3 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Just checking in to see if there's any news on the outcome of this mess. Since there apparently isn't, have a great day anyway! ;D


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Jama, lol! thanks for coming back. I keep trying to find out more, but its just not on the internet at all, bit like the mary celeste, they were there then they disappeared! have a great evening, and thanks, nell


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 3 years ago from Sunny Spain

Excellent hub as always Nell, I am not going to comment because I can't trust myself to play nice right now, but have voted with the majority on your poll grrrr

I am voting up and hitting the relevant buttons on my way out :D


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi maggs, lol! yes it does tend to have that affect after reading, grrr! thanks so much, nell


Muse_of_St_Andrews 3 years ago

Dear Neil,

Many thanks for this intriguing blog which I came across when I was trying to find if there had been any update on this story. It is hard not to feel more than a little sympathy for Selina, as this has taken her in directions which would have been scarcely imaginable when her and her father first appeared on the Antiques Roadshow with that tatty pile of paintings. She seems a genuine hard-working person trying to do the best for her children.

To an extent I can have also some sympathy with the current owners of Myrtle Grove, as there is little question that they have demonstrated that the painting was once within their family, and I think the letters put forward by Simon gave a fascinating insight into the composition and original context of the painting. However, evidence of ownership this is most assuredly not! Some of Mr Murray's comments were a bit unfortunate, he could have handled himself much better, and shown a far greater degree of respect to people, who, after all, have rescued a valuable painting by an important artist from almost certain destruction. There is no doubt that their comments in many ways lacked credibility. I am not surprised Sotheby's were furious with them; I have little doubt that they researched the origins of the painting as best they could as part of their "due diligence" process. They very properly withdrew it from sale when ownership became contested, and appear to have acted fairly in this at all times. I am very surprised the family went on camera to dispute Sotheby's account, that was a little foolhardy. I am pretty sure behind the scenes Sotheby's would have made their anger fairly plain to them - it was obvious how furious their representative was on camera (and remember they would only have went on camera after taking legal advice).

Two things in all this seem fairly clear. At one time this painting resided within Myrtle Grove. Equally clear, is that somehow the painting ended up left discarded near a rubbish tip in the 1980s where it was "found" by Selina's father Tony. With his family it remained for over twenty years until he took it to the Antiques Roadshow and Philip Mould realised the true significance of the painting. The really intriguing question, in fact the only issue, would appear to be: how did it end up there?

Well, in many ways that is a diversion, as the only issue really is: who now has the better claim of ownership? I think it is unfortunate that Selina appears to have entertained such prolonged discussion with Simon Murray. She would have been far better advised to have taken legal proceedings almost immediately (this would probably need to be done in Ireland or USA) to assert her ownership. The basis of her claim was clear and has not really been disputed. That would have forced the hand of their opponents, and might have helped moves towards a more realistic agreement (anything about 60 percent in favour of Selina would be reasonable I think). It is understandable this never happened, trying to reach an agreement would be far more preferable for a woman from a working class background with little knowledge of the law, or experience in such matters. This must have been very stressful for her.

Anyway, from what we can tell it is going to be very difficult for the Murray's to prove that this painting by Homer was stolen. The burden would very much be on them to show that this painting found its way onto a tip in a situation in which the family's rights of ownership have not been extinguished.

1) inventories will exist for probate at various points in the 20th century. Was the painting listed? This would be crucial.

2) there may well be photos's taken within myrtle grove which show shots of the interior with the painting, or not, or even the frame that is missing. Research might reveal the painting's provenance within the house.

3) there seems to be no record of any robberies whatsoever despite some claims to the contrary. The fact the painting was subsequently added to the Art Loss Register is almost totally irrelevant and was done purely as a matter of form. In fact, that this was done at such a late stage counts heavily against them. If there is no contemporary evidence found of police reports indicating a robbery, or related insurance claims, then their claim for ownership will almost certainly be doomed.

Everything we know points in favour of Selina and her father, but all the documents which might possibly indicate otherwise are within the sole domain of Simon Murray. That is the key advantage working against Selina here. Most likely a legal case would end in Selina's favour, but this would involve a lengthy proof and some rather nice legal issues, all of which would be very costly - in fact costs might exceed the value of the painting. This could be recovered with success, but does either party really want the risk? In any event, until the matter is resolved, the painting cannot be sold, as no auction house would be able to guarantee good title for any buyer. In theory the painting could easily be recovered from Sotheby's, but there would be little point in the cost of this as the painting still could not be sold, as not even a private buyer is likely to bear the risk as things stand. Until the ownership issue is resolved no sale will take place.

You could hardly have a clearer case which calls for parties to reach agreement. I suspect neither side can afford the legal costs in the event of defeat, which might exceed the value of the painting by some distance. The moral balance is with Selina and her father, they found and rescued the painting from destruction and deserve to be recompensed for that. Alas in this case, "finders keepers", has proven to be far from straightforward. But there are definitely two sides here, and all the important details are with the party who has, quite properly, has had little to say.

My best guess would be that this case will eventually settle, I see no other likely outcome. If it goes to court, from what little is in the public domain, it does look like Selina has the stronger claim, unless it can be shown precisely in which circumstances the painting ended up being discarded, which seems pretty unlikely. I still think however that the best thing that Selina could have done was to raise legal proceedings almost immediately. I look forward to hearing at some point how this fascinating story ends.


Amy 3 years ago

I saw a re-airing of this show last night; it seems that after a few years still nothing has resolved for Selena. If I was her I'd be tempted to tell Mr. Murray that I would find an attorney who, after taking 100% proceeds as payment of course, would be successful in establishing a precedent for these types of cases so that nobody in the future has to wonder about what to do when a painting they don't know about is stolen and they don't file a police report. That way nobody wins (but the attorney taking the case). And, BOOO Sotheby's.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Amy, I totally agree with you, its so disgusting. I am afraid I would have done something by now, not sure what, but something! and yes double BOOO to sotheby's! lol! thanks so much for reading, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi muse, my apologies for not showing your comment, surprisingly it went into the spam filter. Thanks for your input, nell


Mari 3 years ago

Hi Nell,

I saw the program today here in finland about the picture. It makes me curious is there any news today about the ownership of the painting, the program was made 2010?


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Mari, no sorry, I have been desperately trying to find out what's happened since, but its nowhere on the internet, if I do get to find out I will add it to this article, thanks so much for reading, nell


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 3 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Hi, Nell. Just saw there were a couple of new comments and popped in to see if Selena has finally been declared the owner. Drats! I second your BOOOO to Sotheby's for their part is this mess! Hopefully the authorities are keeping an eye on the painting so the Blakes can't squirrel it away in a cave or sell it privately, but it's odd that there's NO news whatsoever on the net about the case. Very odd, indeed.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Jama, I am going to try and find out somehow, its driving me mad too! lol! great to see you! nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Just a quick note to say that I have been in touch with Sothebys Auction house to ask for any new information, I will post a reply when I receive the email back, so keep checking back, thanks.


Lisbeth - Denmark 3 years ago

Dear Nell

Thanks for this great post (is that what it is called? - new at this!)

The programme has just been on Danish television tonight and I am still rather shocked. Have seached the internet trying to find out what has since happened and that is how I found your blog/hub. Can only agree that as a minimum Selena should get 50%. Also wonder the letters are authetic ... Hope there will be a resolution to the matter soon - feel sorry for Selena and her family for being dragged through this whole mess!

Best regards,

Lisbeth


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Lisbeth thanks so much for reading. I recently got in touch with Sothebys in England and America and sadly they won't release any other information. I just hope that one day we will get to know the outcome of this, it seems to be a world wide interest, thanks again, nell


John 3 years ago

The Painting belongs to Selina, the tv program was send twice in Denmark-

yours truly John


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Thanks John I agree with you completely, glad you enjoyed the program and thanks for reading my article, nell


Drive By Quipper profile image

Drive By Quipper 3 years ago from Wrong Side of Town

A fast nickel beats a slow dime! That's why savvy attorney's settle out of court.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

So true Drive By, and thanks for reading!


Lisbeth - Denmark 3 years ago

Thanks Nell -- will check back to see if there is any new development.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

If I hear anything more I will post it on here, okay? Thanks again Lisbeth and great to hear from you, nell


Lisbeth - Denmark 3 years ago

Super! Thanks!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Thanks Samita, I really appreciate your reading, nell


3 years ago

Just watched the show. Is there any possibility of contributing to Selina's legal expenses? It seems that the claimant is hoping to reverse history and "un-discard" the painting and now to bully Selina into giving up. It is patently unfair.


Aussie Kate 3 years ago

Hi Nell & contributors ~

This program has just aired here, on the ABC in Australia (@14h00). How sad it is for Selina & her family.

When 97% of respondents to an online Poll think Selina & her family should have the proceeds of the painting's sale, how on earth can Simon Murray & his family carry on with their ridiculous charade?

I think Selina will have the last word, in some way or another. The Universe will conspire in her favour. I am not clairvoyant & psychic for no reason.

I've tried to find a contact for Simon Murray's work place to drop him a constructive email. Alas no luck.

Do you have his business website or any e-contact for this man & his family, so I can let him know how I feel, please?

Thanks for the opportunity to voice an opinion

Aussie Kate, Melbourne. Victoria

15h50 Sunday 3.11.13


3 years ago

Just saw a repeat of the show. Anyone know what happened to Selina's claim on the painting?

Could only find an article stating that the Blake family are now suing Sothebys to reclaim the painting.

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/sothebys-to-face...


Nah 3 years ago

I would think the painting must be owned by a legal entity, either a person or company(IE not "the family"). If the law in Ireland is that the owner who disposed of it has a higher claim than the finder, then THAT person should come forward and claim it. Since that has not happened and Mr Murray can only prove it WAS in the family, Selina should get the painting.


Deidre 3 years ago

Just seen program on ABC in Australia.

1. Painting was discarded by owners therefore belongs to Selina

2.Where is the insurance listing of contents validating presence of painting in original household?

3. Obviously was not recognised as valuable - Simon's own words had lots of worthless paintings and this was only one worth anything why he wanted it back. - Probably why previous housholders discarded it.

Wonder if any other non recognised valuable paintings got thrown out too?


Terry 3 years ago

Picture this. Ok a judge should tear the picture in half in front of both parties, Selina and Simon. The judge would just stop when he sees the tear in Selinas eyes for what the picture means to her. He knows A copy is in her lounge proudly displayed. He knows Simon is a cad and never even listed the painting under Insurance. So the judge gives it to Selina to do as she pleases. Problem solved again. I am good at this .


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Lol! Thanks Terry, yes you are! sounds like a good plan to me. Thanks for reading, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Deidre, that's a very good point about the insurance listings. Simon admitted at first that he only wanted it for the money, and I am sure many other paintings have been thrown away too.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Nah, great points, and I think that is the trouble. of course if the painting had been actually found on the rubbish tip instead of just outside it, then the owner would be the tip owner!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi M, I recently wrote to Sotheby's in Britain and in the States, the reply was stated as above in the comments:

. I recently got in touch with Sothebys in England and America and sadly they won't release any other information. I just hope that one day we will get to know the outcome of this, it seems to be a world wide interest.

I will try to find out by looking elsewhere but it seems that the whole thing has been shut down for outside info, sorry. Thanks


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Kate, thanks for reading, I have also tried to find it, but it seems that they are keeping under the radar. I think I will write to the program makers to see if I can get any info from them, I will keep you posted, okay? thanks


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi B, yes it is totally unfair. Its been a couple of years now since it was aired over here in England, as I mention in the other comment, I think I will try to find out more from the BBC program, thanks so much for reading, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Update:

According to Wikipedia in October 2013 The London Evening Standard reported that Shirley Rountree (Simons mother) was suing Sothebys for the return of the painting. According to Sothebys they state that 'The ownership of the painting is still being disputed and should be settled in the Courts'.


aussie 3 years ago

Hi, I have recently seen the fake or fortune show and of course my heart goes out to Selina and the family. As I have previously worked in Wills and Estates I have seen this type of thing before, when the next generation come to sort through the deceased estate and ready the dwelling for their new life in the dwelling, old things are discarded without consideration. At the time of no emotional value or importance therefore no value to the owner - thus discarded. It is clearly the case with Simon and his family, only to find out later that actually those old paintings are of value - Cha Ching Big US Dollar value...

Silly and sad really that the ownership is taking sooo long to sort out. But for me the most interesting and notable point of interest is that Sothebys were trying to negotiate on behalf of Simon with Selina 10 minutes before the scheduled Auction sale the without any legal proof of ownership of Simons claim to the painting. Yet they were welling to negotiate for him - the Blakes want 75% ,there final offer is 70%?? Something very fishy going on there.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi aussie, yes I totally agree with you. It was when they suddenly produced the 'proof' in the book, all the details were there about the painting! yep right! I bet he sat down the night before and wrote it all out himself! and yes you are right, the new generation did have a clear out, and then said it was a burglary. this was 20 years ago for goodness sake! why was there no proof of that? it seems as though its ongoing. The mother is said to be suing Sothebys, I would like to see that! lol! thanks so much for reading, nell


Susan 3 years ago

Here's a thought. Maybe Mrs Blake was unable to pay for the upkeep of this mansion (her g.g.grandson already admits to it being expensive)that she convinced the contractor to accept the paintings as a down payment for his work. On his way to the tip to dispose of the construction mess he threw the box out the window in disgust! Selina and her dad then found it. The painting was not stolen, it was sold for services. if anyone has a claim against it its the contractor.

Why didn't the Blakes do everything they could to recover their 'stolen' items? Why are they showing no interest in the other items. Greedy pigs saw an opportunity for some easy money.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

HI Susan, yes and totally yes to all your points! I bet if they realized that the other paintings that had been thrown out were worth something they would have been crawling around on the tip! lol! thanks, nell


M Westy 3 years ago

Those who finds the picture owns it. Those who try to take it from someone do not own it. Simply


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

I totally agree M. Westy, thanks for reading, nell


angiiiii 2 years ago

This painting was so important they did not know it was missing. Ignored Sotheby's advice it would be sold.

Never complained it was missing on the art register.

Offered only 25 then 30% to the then owner.

Loved it so much they were happy at first to sell it.

Simon Murray, (Lawyer and Barrister, son of Shirley Rountree), clearly not short of a bob or 2, claim, quote, 'I am sure the money has all been spent on swimming pools and cars'....well, actually as a single Mum of 4 children, likely paying off what she now owns, idiot comment.

It shows the mentality of the rich crushing the poor.

GREED. Here is how this is easily resolved, the wisdom of Soloman.

BRING THE PAINTING TO COURT AND THREATEN TO SAW IT INTO 2. VALUELESS.....unless each take 50%.

Greed..,.sickening, my favourite sin....


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Thanks angiiiii, I totally agree with you, thanks for reading, nell


Lisbeth - Denmark 2 years ago

Couldn't have said it better, Angiiii! You are so right!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Thanks Lisbeth, nell


Lisbeth - Denmark 2 years ago

My pleasure :)


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Hey, Nell! Just stopped by to see if this mess has been resolved yet. It hasn't. Drats! It's been awhile, but I still think Sotheby's KNOWS its jewels are in a wringer because they didn't do the all important due diligence and verify the provenance of the painting BEFORE agreeing to include it in an auction.

That said, I DO like angiiiii's "solution"...sort of. Having just read "The Goldfinch"...don't waste your $$$ OR your time, btw...I was reminded that when works of art are taken out of circulation, whether by actually being destroyed (as the Goldfinch was thought to be for several years), or hidden away in a Paris apartment for decades, or by ownership disputes such what's happening to "Children", we ALL lose by being denied the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of an artist's labor.

Other than money, what can Simon and his obviously-greedy mother hope to gain by continuing the legal battle for ownership? Certainly not the admiration of the art world and fans of great art.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Hi JamaGenee, great to see you! And no its still not been resolved. I even wrote to Sotheby's! lol! They were not very helpful! Its just ridiculous now, surely they can sort something out? Thanks for coming back, hope you are well?


Trogging 2 years ago

Seems to me that Simon Murray's family should have some insurance records of the painting from before the painting was found on the dump. No family of this calibre would not have insured their valuable artworks, and most keep their records for posterity and history. In fact most value their artwork yearly. If the family don't have the records then the insurers might have these records.

If there is no insurance records, and it was in the family's possession, then the family did not think it was valuable at the time, and probably did bin it. More fools them.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Hi Trogging, that's so true! the insurance would definitely have proved it so yes they should have records. they binned it, simple as that, and they just won't give up, greedy! thanks for reading, nell


Garp 2 years ago

Murray is simply indulging in legal thuggery. He knows that he doesn't have enough to get the painting but he has the power to put the painting in limbo. He doesn't need to prove the painting is rightfully his, he just needs to cast doubt over the ownership so that the painting can't be sold. Now he tells Selena Varney, give me 70-75% of any money raised and I'll allow the sale to go ahead.

It's no coincidence that he is offering Varney 25-30% of a painting est. to be worth 100,000 when he would know that she originally expected to make 30,000 on the sale (the figure quoted on the Antiques Roadshow).


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Hi Garp, yes that's so true, I did try getting in touch with Sotheby's but to no avail, they wouldn't give me any info, it seems its a stand off still! With the new series just started I hope we get to see something about this, maybe the last in the series as an update, fingers crossed! Thanks for reading, nell


Mark F. 2 years ago

IF (and for only two letters, that's a very big word) Simon Murray's very convenient photocopies of his great-great-granny's diary mention that Winslow Homer promised to present her with a "sketch" of her three children in their costumes from the ball. Some artists work on a sketch or two, and then go on to their final painting, much as a writer will work on a draft. It is quite possible that what was presented to the governor's wife was a preliminary sketch, from which Homer painted his work to sell back in the United States. And the family barrister is just using that story as leverage in what amounts to an extortion of money from the rightful owner of the painting.


Mark F. 2 years ago

Sigh. I was desperately short of sleep when I keyed in the above. I hope that my meaning is clear. Even if the diary is not a forgery, it only proves that Lady Blake received a "sketch", which might only be a preliminary version of the watercolor, and not the painting at issue, and the diary does not prove that the painting, if that is what it was, was not given away, bartered, sold or discarded. Unfortunately, I have a bit of experience in trying to get Sotheby's to sell a piece. In my case, five of the six experts on their assessment panel were certain that my painting was a genuine Jane Peterson, and the sixth was adamant that, while an original artwork, my painting was by some unknown other artist who signed as J. Peterson. Since they have a standard of not marketing anything without complete agreement on authenticity by their panels, I was out of luck.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Hi Mark, sorry its taken me a while to answer, just came on here. First of all yes I totally understand what you mean about Simon Murray's so called evidence, of course it can't possibly prove where the painting went, how, or why. Its easy to say well here's the evidence, but of course paintings get sold or lost over time, and this of course was 20 years later, not straight away. surely he would have noticed something missing over 20 years for goodness sake!

As for your painting, that must be so frustrating. I have just watched the latest Fake or Fortune series and I totally understand what you mean about the authenticity. It only takes one to mess up the whole reality of the situation. So frustrating and annoying. Good luck with it, as you can see by the Series, it can eventually be done but it does take time, good luck and thanks for reading. Nell


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Nell, the tangled web just gets more tangled! Someone else has claimed ownership of "Children".

In November 2013, a Massachusetts man named Clifford Schorer says he loaned Selena Rendell an unspecified amount and she used the painting as collateral. As she has not repaid the loan, his lawsuit claims he's the rightful owner. (see: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/homer-chi...

The "good" news is the painting is still at Sotheby's (or was as of Nov 2013) and will remain there until courts determine the true owner.

I got interested again after reading about Winslow Homer in a coffee table book about a San Antonio TX couple's collection of 26 Impressionist paintings they'd loaned to the Smithsonian's art gallery in Washington, D.C. It said that late in life, Homer had become a recluse in Maine, so I was curious as to how and where he would've met up with the Blakes to do "Children" in the first place.

Sir Henry Arthur Blake had been the Governor of the Bahamas from 1884 to 1887. Homer visited the Bahamas in the winters of 1884 and 1885.

That said, I'm still not convinced Homer actually did the painting. The sketch for it, perhaps, as Edith Blake's diary attests. But Edith was a well-known, accomplished watercolorist who did very detailed renderings of the flora and fauna of the Bahamas, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that Homer did do the sketch, but Edith Blake completed it. Like a paint-by-number, as it were, which would explain why the family always thought it was one of her own watercolors.

Just sayin...


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 2 years ago from East Coast, United States

Was the painting reported as stolen at the time it supposedly went missing? If there was no report can the family of the Blake's still make a claim? Picking up something at the dump, I certainly would not report it to the police. I love these stories of art thefts and the ensuing legal fights. But it does seem that the financial gain goes to the lawyers. Great story.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York

I'm so glad you brought this one back Nell. You always find the most interesting subjects to write about. It really looks very fishy for the Blakes,l I mean how coincidental they just realized it had been stolen! There's no way it should be given to them. Selina's dad found it so that should be the end of it.

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Hi Genee, Wow I never knew that! no wonder its still stuck at Sotheby's! I don't think it will ever be sorted out to be honest, its one of those things that could go on for years! thanks for the update!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Hi Dolores, no it was never reported, in fact it was 20 years before all this happened! that's the contention I think, yes those lawyers must be raking in the money by now, thanks so much for reading, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Hi Mary, yes it was wasn't it? it seems they went into action the second they thought they would lose money! Selina is the real owner, simple as that, as for the new so called owner coming forward, Selina should be able to sell the painting and then pay him off, thanks for reading, nell


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma

For the record, Sotheby's has a long-standing policy of yanking items from auctions at the last minute if there's the slightest whiff of dispute of ownership. "Children" is only one of several paintings being held at Sotheby's until the rightful owner is determined.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

I never realised that Genee, Wow! yes the ownership is a big thing, if they got it wrong they could be sued, so they have to be really careful.


angiiiii 2 years ago

I would seek out a lawyer pro bono or on fixed fee, and challenge Sotheby's... for wrongful possession.

How can people be this mean?

It is always, but always, those who have it who want more.

We have wealthy relatives who you would not believe would have done the most appalling things to a 90 year old. Lies, falsehoods, theft..... and Mum was 90, all to make her change her will. She had cancer....

Where do all the good people go?

I know where these lot are going. Just a question of time.....

Karma.

Selina, if you read these messages, take the 97% vote results to your lawyer, and sue the Blakes whe you successfully sue Sotheby's.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Thanks Angiiii, nell


Todd in SF 2 years ago

The whole thing is ridiculous. The fact is, Simon Murray and his family never reported any burglary or burglaries of any kind. Suddenly, after nearly 30 years, when the Murray family realized the existence of the painting -- and that it is a valuable painting by a renowned artist -- they declare that the painting was stolen. Like hell it was! It gets worse. Simon Murray, a lawyer, had the gall to malign the people who found it on the rubbish heap and rescued it, by saying he knew they were hoping to use the money for swimming pools and motor cars. Murray is overprivileged and arrogant, too rich for his own good, and, clearly, he has no understanding of people who actually have to work for a living to support themselves to any degree of modest comfort. I think there must be a statute of limitations of some sort in this case -- you shouldn't be able to suddenly report a theft 25 years after the fact and establish ownership of an object as stolen goods that are rightfully yours. After a statutorily defined period of time, it's too late to shout "Theft, theft!" The fact is, this watercolor, unframed, was tucked away in the pages of a scrapbook and it's more than likely the family tossed it out with no idea anything valuable was in it, which is their problem. I can't believe it's taking this long for the courts to declare who the rightful owner actually is. At this point, it shouldn't be the people who tossed the scrapbook out along with the painting it contained and are now claiming it was stolen -- that claim is obvious horsehockey, based on the greed of someone who is already wealthy. After so many years, finders keepers ought to be the verdict.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Hi Todd, I totally agree with everything you say, its just plain stupid, and as for the remark about swimming pools etc I was so mad when I heard him say it! you are quite right, everything should be sorted out by now, its just ridiculous! thanks for reading, nell


Gillianisme 2 years ago

I watched this just today ... What a story ! What a roller coaster ride for Selina ! and what a proverbial ass is the great grandson and the rest of the Blake family for making this claim .

I have no doubt that at one time the painting had belonged to the Blakes but come on... without the Dad finding these paintings and saving them there would be nothing for the Blakes to claim and nothing is what they should receive. Please keep me updated I cannot wait to see the look on the grandsons face when common sense prevails .


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Hi Gillianisme, yes I will update this as soon as I hear anything, thanks so much for reading, and I totally agree with you!


Funda 2 years ago

I watched this today. I find Murray's comments on how Selina would spend the money on a swimming pool etc. outrageous. If they could be grateful for the find and offer her half the money, I think she would accept it. Family obviously think that they could treat her the way they like since they have the money and status. I hope Selina would win the case and get all the money. Family does not deserve it or the painting itself. If they were worthy of it, they would not discard the painting as rubbish.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Hi Funda, I totally agree with you, I keep looking for news on this but nothing seems to have happened, and its quite a long time now, its disgusting how they have been treated, thanks so much for reading, nell


angiiiiii 2 years ago

I used to think vanity was my favourite sin, now I think it has changed to greed.

Where have we gone wrong in the world, where politicians become fat cats who are self serving, and show no example for the poor or wealthy on the planet.

Embrace the fact that moderation, humility and kindness are virtues and not weaknesses.

If I were written of, as these Murray's are written of, I would be so very ashamed.

Those who have not, have not, but those who have want more....

Greed, my no `1 favourite sin.....


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Thanks so much for reading angiiiii, and yes I totally agree with you, what is wrong with these people? the haves have more, the poor have les and nobody cares! this is just greed, and yes I agree, a number 1 sin, nell


Heath venn 22 months ago

I watched this last night and was shocked, to then today do some research and discover a 3rd party has made a claim.... Could it have gotten any worse.

I think we should start a "raise the funds" Paige for selina, get her her Original 30k for her kids and she cN do away with all this crap and have a wonderful life!!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 22 months ago from England Author

Hi Heath, yes I totally agree with you! I think its gone on far too long now, the sad thing is if she hadn't taken it onto the TV programme in the first place then nobody would have known about the other claimants, and it would have been over and done with now. seems being truthful doesn't get you anywhere these days! thanks for reading, nell


Penny Christie 19 months ago

She doesn't need the money, got a pub with new husband, got a loan from a third party on the painting....


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 19 months ago from England Author

Aha Penny, do tell! LOL! we want details! lol! thanks, that sounds interesting! if you don't want to write details here, just email me, go to my profile page, down the right hand side till you get to Fan Male, click on there and then send me an email okay? Thanks!


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 19 months ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Hi Nell You certainly wrote on a popular topic and received lots of responses. What a mystery. I gather it was on TV or in the paper, and you took the story and made it into a great hub. I didn't read the entire list of comments, but got the gist of what has happened. Thanks for sharing a story that you made easy to understand. Blessings, Audrey


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 19 months ago from England Author

Hi brake, yes it was on tv, it made a real storm over here. We all felt sorry for her, but now it seems things have turned out okay, lol! thanks for reading, nell


Penny Christie 18 months ago

Nothing really to add, Selena has got a loan on the painting with a third party who now has claim on the painting, she owes this guy a considerable sum. So, if the painting does end up with the Blakes, she's got a big debt around her neck. Silly girl.


Penny Christie 18 months ago

Greed comes to mind!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 18 months ago from England Author

Than;ks Penny, Phew! sounds like she is 'spitting in the wind' as my mum would say! lol! as you say, if it does end up with the Blakes she will be in big trouble! Unless there is something else we don't know, but anyway, thanks so much for the update, I wish the stalemate would end, it must be driving her and the family nuts!


Penny Christie 18 months ago

Clifford Schorer says he loaned Rendall an unspecified amount of money in 2012, and she backed the loan with the painting - which is estimated to be worth as much as $250,000.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 18 months ago from England Author

Hi Penny, thanks for clarifying it. So the intrigue goes on! lol! it will be interesting to see what happens next! thanks again, and have a great weekend, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 18 months ago from England Author

Just came back to say I have been looking it up and realise that this news is out there on the internet so I can add it here, thanks again, nell


angiiiii 18 months ago

Nell Rose

you have been very British and polite about the mean minded comments of Penny Rose.

You can see how out of synch her comments are. The 'well Selina is alright she married and owns a pub'.....try running one, and you will what hard work it is.

I am so glad this lady has found a level of happiness, after the auction house attitude, and the sheet arrogance of the Murray family members.

This woman and her Dad are the legitimate owners, and left it foar too late to cause this chaos. The man is a barrister for god's sake. He is a wealthy individual who is clueless to living in the real world. Her Dad found this dumped, no police report, no insurance claim. It is only when the item was VALUED that an interest and family need to own it was established.

This does not need litigation. It is a simple mediator trick.

Split the proceeds, done....

I cannot stand or bear a mean spirit......

Selina, if you read this, get to mediation, put this xxxxx behind you..


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 18 months ago from England Author

Thanks angiiii, I try to keep it polite on here, I have learned my lesson in the past! lol! not so much being British as well, learning my lesson. To be honest I never really noticed the tone of Penny's remarks I just presumed she knew her. Then I found the info on the internet, so maybe not. But yes I totally agree with you, I never ran a pub but worked in one and yes hard work! As for the painting I think it is disgusting how Selina has been treated, and I hope that one day it works out for her, thanks for reading, nell


Penny Christie 18 months ago

I do know of her. I am from the village where she lived before she bought her pub... All I am saying is that she has settled.... she has passed her claim of ownership over to the guy who has loaned her the money... I just hope for her sake he doesn't knock on her door for repayment of the loan she has taken on the thing if ownership goes to the blakes.... I think the need of money took over common sense... !


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 18 months ago from England Author

Thanks Penny, Yes you are right, if it all goes wrong then she will be in big trouble, sorry if you were upset at angiii's comment, I appreciate your writing and letting me know, nell


Linda Robertson 18 months ago

I am following this story in New York state. Penny and al: the new owner of the painting is Clifford Schorer, the head of the Board of Directors of the Worcester Museum in Massachusetts, which has sued Sotheby's in the New York State Supreme Court to obtain ownership of the painting. He loaned Selena an undisclosed amount of money for the transfer of ownership. If the courts decide the picture belongs to the Blakes, it is a loss to to Schorer, not Selena. As long as Selena is making her payments, I do not see how Schorer can call in the loan, and if he wins, the Worcester will have obtained a very valuable painting to add to their collection. Certainly, Schorer has deeper pockets than Selena. From what I gather, Selena has moved on and purchased a pub. Presumably, the proceeds will be used to repay the loan. It seems to me that leveraging property you may not own as collateral for a loan is a smart move, and she is being advised by a very good property attorney.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 18 months ago from England Author

Hi Linda, yep I did wonder if it was that Clifford Shorer, I looked him up. It sounds like Selina has done pretty well out of this, and good luck to her! Thanks so much for confirming the story, nell


anon 16 months ago

As usual, the only winners will be the lawyers.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 16 months ago from England Author

Thanks anon, yes you are probably right there!


BobbyHartman 9 months ago

When Simon Murray, identified the photo, he said the family still had the urn, that they had found and was in the picture. Why can they keep a urn that they found and Selina can not keep a picture her family rescued?


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 9 months ago from England Author

Yes you are right Bobby, I do believe though that Selina though has got the better deal now, she has sold it on, so thank goodness for that!


Paul 7 months ago

This is a very interesting case from a legal perspective. Sotheby's should not have stopped the auction after completing due diligence and agreeing to the sale, they were contractually bound to sell the painting.

Property that has been abandoned does not belong to anyone and the legal owner who has abandoned it cannot later change their mind when they discover its true worth.

To reclaim the painting the Blakes would have to prove that it was more likely than not that the painting belonged to them and, rather than being sold or abandoned, it had either been lost or was stolen from them.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 7 months ago from England Author

Thanks paul, my thoughts exactly! I think it was disgusting how the whole thing went down, in fact the so called evidence that appeared seemed a bit suspect to me! much to convenient! at least a the end she won out, thank goodness! thanks for reading, nell


penny christie 5 months ago

looks like selena and new hubby are off to a new york court very soon


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 months ago from England Author

Hi penny, where did you get that info? thanks


Pennies christie 6 weeks ago

Local knowledge. Selena has been openly discussing it. Locals think she is there now as they are away. Who knows.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 weeks ago from England Author

Thanks Pennies Christie. it certainly is an on going interesting story! amazing out of all the series this is the one that captured the worlds imagination. Thanks for reading, nell

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