The international art world - the antics of which have been popularised recently in thrupiecetelevision's sensationally successful mini-series English Riviera - was on high alert yesterday as West Country Inter-county Police Organisation (INTERWESTCOPOL) uncovered a plot to pass off an old 18th century canvas as a genuine Thrupiece.
The painting - King George I at Newmarket (4 October 1717) by John Wootton - is valued at little more than £2.8 million, whereas a genuine Thrupiece sells - according to art dealer and picture valuer Patina Collage - "for considerably less".
It is believed that the painting was offered to a West Country auction house (which cannot be named for legal reasons) by a local collector and that experts were at first convinced they had a genuine Thrupiece on their hands. Motcombe Messenger Art Correspondent Peregrine Gouache explains: "The painting was clearly signed Thrupiece and its appellation "S-LS Hacking on Newmarket Downs July 2003" seemed genuine enough. It's true that the brush work and some aspects of the pigmentation seemed untypical of the Professor's late style (known by art experts as the Professor's "Late Style") but he was such a chameleon, nothing about the work raised immediate suspicions. It was only when a potential buyer noticed a similarity with a landscape missing from the National Horse Racing Museum in Newmarket that questions were asked and INTERWESTCOPOL alerted."
INTERWESTCOPOL declined to comment on what remains "an ongoing investigation" but confirmed their involvement and indicated that arrests were likely to follow.
"Thrupieces so rarely come on the market", Ms Collage added, "that there is bound to be excitement and in the frenzy, basic protocols get forgotten. All I would say is, if you are thinking of acquiring a Thrupiece, tread carefully: if it looks too good to be a Thrupiece it probably is".
S-LS Hacking on Newmarket Downs July 2003 by Professor Thrupiece [LEFT] is in fact King George I at Newmarket (4 October 1717) by John Wootton [RIGHT]. Experts were temporarily fooled until INTERWESTCOPOL matched the fake "Thrupiece" to a picture missing from the National Horse Racing Museum in Newmarket. An enlarged version of the two pictures [HERE] clearly shows Professor Thrupiece's signature - another example of the forger's art which at first fooled even the most expert eye.