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Henry Moore Foundation to appear on BBC1 Fake or Fortune?

Entertainment / Fri 23rd Jul 2021 at 08:08am

THIS year’s Fake or Fortune? Series launches next week with this episode focusing on a possible work by Sculptor Henry Moore. Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould head to the beautiful Norfolk countryside on the trail of one of the 20th century’s greatest artists, Henry Moore.

They’re investigating an intriguing sculpture that belongs to retired dairy farmer Neil Betts and his wife Barbara who, over the years, have used the piece as a doorstop and even a water feature, when Neil draped a hosepipe over it. It was only when a friend suggested it looked very much like the work of Henry Moore that the Betts began to see it in a different light – and started to call it “Henry”. 

Neil and Barbara inherited the sculpture from their former neighbour, Mrs Williams, who at that time lived next door to them at Mergate Hall near Norwich. The sculpture had been found in the long grass of the grounds of the Hall when Neil had struck it with his strimmer while helping the Williams clear the garden. When Mrs Williams died, she left it to the Betts along with all of her possessions. 

Things got off to a promising start when Neil and Barbara sent photographs of the sculpture to the Henry Moore Foundation in Perry Green, Hertfordshire. The Foundation has the authority to decide whether previously uncatalogued pieces are genuine works by Moore. They were interested enough in the Betts’ piece to ask them to submit it to their Review Panel. But first the Fake or Fortune? team are helping the Betts research this distinctive piece and compile a dossier of evidence. 

When Philip first takes his first proper look at the sculpture, he admits to being “rather blown away by it.” He’s struck by the similarities with recurring motifs and stylistic features of Moore’s work, though the silvery appearance of the sculpture also strikes him as unusual. Discovering what this sculpture is made of, and whether it’s a material that Henry Moore used, will be a crucial part of the investigation. 

Norfolk was an area that Henry Moore visited often, spending holidays in the village of Mulbarton which is just along the road from Mergate Hall. Local history has it that Moore even visited Mergate Hall on several occasions. It’s an exciting and tantalising prospect that needs further investigation. But as Fiona begins her research, it soon becomes clear that there’s another possible name to consider as the creator of “Henry”. 

There’s a huge amount at stake; if this is a unique, one-off piece by Henry Moore, Philip shocks everyone by revealing it could be worth up to a million pounds. But if it’s not, then it’s probably worth just a few thousand. The stakes have never been so high for the team. 

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