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

Updated on May 19, 2016
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

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

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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    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 2 months ago from England

      Thanks FF yes I totally agree with you, but luckily if you read near the bottom it worked out okay.

    • profile image

      Fresh-Foodz 2 months ago

      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. https://fresh-foodz.com.au Fresh-Foodz - Daily Needs Online

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 5 months ago from England

      LOL! brilliant Tibor! I just wish she had thought of that! or been advised that, because I am sure those Blakes would have shut up then!

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      Tibor 5 months ago

      In order to prove that the painting was stolen, the Blakes need to p┼Ľovide a Police report. No police report, no proof it was stolen.

      What we do not know: No one has any idea how, what, where its been all those previous years. For all we know the original owners could have thrown it all out when cleaning out the house. No one will ever know. Even a magistrate would agree.

      However what we do know: Selena has stored it for over 20 years in a clean, dry place therefore she has a right to charge the Blakes for storage fees,( if they can prove it was always theirs in the first place). At storage and management fees rates of an expensive painting like this she can charge 3000 pounds a year for over 20 years. On top of that she can charge a 30 percent finders fee of the valuation of the painting. In addition she can also charge any legal fees, any interest lost from the drawn out legal process lost from the original sale, or devaluation of the artwork due to a withdrawn sale at the auction by the Blakes.

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 7 months ago from England

      Thanks Pardelope, I believe its out of her hands now, which I am sure she is really pleased! but the new owner still has a long way to go. thanks for reading, nell

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      Pardelope 7 months ago

      The courts of three countries (Ireland, England, and the USA) are involved - each having their own interpretations of "ownership". "Finders keepers" does not apply in all situations or jurisdictions. For example, some art works acquired (?stolen) by the Nazis before and during WWII from Jewish families, have been returned to descendants after expensive court cases. The items had, in some cases, gone through a number of owners who bought them in good faith. Despite their honest purchase or acquisition, they were considered to have received "stolen goods". Each case will have to be treated individually according to the laws of the court involved. I personally think Selena had a good case. It is a shame that an agreement - say 50/50 - could not have been achieved - thereby saving a lot of legal fees and stress. Alternatively, "the family" could have bought it at auction if they were suddenly so desperate.

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 10 months ago from England

      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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      Pennies christie 10 months 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
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      Nell Rose 13 months ago from England

      Hi penny, where did you get that info? thanks

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      penny christie 13 months ago

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

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 16 months ago from England

      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

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      Paul 16 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
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      Nell Rose 18 months ago from England

      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!

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      BobbyHartman 18 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
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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Thanks anon, yes you are probably right there!

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      anon 2 years ago

      As usual, the only winners will be the lawyers.

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      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

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      Linda Robertson 2 years 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
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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      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

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      Penny Christie 2 years 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
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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      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

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      angiiiii 2 years 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
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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      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

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      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

    • profile image

      Penny Christie 2 years 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
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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      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!

    • profile image

      Penny Christie 2 years ago

      Greed comes to mind!

    • profile image

      Penny Christie 2 years 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.

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      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

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 2 years 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
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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      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!

    • profile image

      Penny Christie 2 years 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
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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      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

    • profile image

      Heath venn 2 years 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
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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      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

    • profile image

      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
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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      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

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      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
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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

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

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      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
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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      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

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      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
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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Thanks Angiiii, nell

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      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
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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      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.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 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
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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      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

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      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
      Author

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      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!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 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.

    • 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.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 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...

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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      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

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      Mark F. 3 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.

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      Mark F. 3 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.

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      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

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      Garp 3 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).

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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      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

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      Trogging 3 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
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      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?

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      Joanna McKenna 3 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.

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      Lisbeth - Denmark 3 years ago

      My pleasure :)

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Thanks Lisbeth, nell

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      Lisbeth - Denmark 3 years ago

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

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

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

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      angiiiii 3 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
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

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

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      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
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      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

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      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
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      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

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      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
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      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'.

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      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

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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      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
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      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
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      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
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      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
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

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

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      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 .

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      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?

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      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.

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      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...

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      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

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      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.

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Thanks Samita, I really appreciate your reading, nell

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      Lisbeth - Denmark 3 years ago

      Super! Thanks!

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

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

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      Lisbeth - Denmark 3 years ago

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

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      So true Drive By, and thanks for reading!

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      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
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

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

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      John 3 years ago

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

      yours truly John

    • Nell Rose profile image
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      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      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

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      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

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      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      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.

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      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

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

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      Joanna McKenna 4 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
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      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      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

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      Mari 4 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?