Fake or Fortune returns for a fifth series, beginning with one of the most challenging cases the team has ever encountered. Can art detectives Philip Mould and Fiona Bruce prove that a painting of a man in a black cravat is one of the first pictures ever painted by celebrated and controversial British artist Lucian Freud, even though Freud himself denied painting it?
Every year, the Fake or Fortune team receive hundreds of requests for help from the owners of mysterious portraits. Everyone wants to know two things - who is it, and who painted it? The team choose three of the most promising portraits to investigate further - a child, believed to be by prized modern artist Willem de Kooning, a young lady, attributed to 18th-century society painter Philip Mercier, and a formidable-looking man, said to be by 19th-century German master Adolph von Menzel.
An enchanting sketch of a dancer believed to have been drawn by Auguste Rodin is at the centre of an investigation that draws the team into a recent forgery scandal that has rocked the French art establishment. Alice Thoday, a Lincolnshire resident with Belgian roots, inherited the rare watercolour from her mother and has always believed it to be part of a series of works Rodin drew of a Cambodian dance troupe which visited France in 1906. It could be worth over 100,000 if genuine - but the trouble is, Rodin is one of the world's most faked artists.
The Fake or Fortune team have been called in to investigate a mysterious painting in Castle of Park, a grand house in Aberdeenshire now run as a bed and breakfast by Becky Wilson.
Scriptwriter Keith Tutt fell in love with the work of French post-Impressionist painter Edouard Vuillard in his school art class. When a large oval picture of a Parisian cafe scene said to be by the artist appeared in a provincial auction house, he gambled his savings on it - even though it doesn't appear in the official record of Vuillard's works. To prove it, the team will need to convince some of the most demanding art experts in France… and they've got a tricky history with Fake or Fortune. The quest for evidence starts in Geneva, where Philip and conservationist Aviva Burnstock compare Keith's picture with a huge Vuillard work called Le Grand Teddy, painted for a French cafe in 1919. Can science prove that the two pictures were painted using identical materials? Fiona picks up the provenance trail in France and Holland, unearthing tantalising clues about the picture's past, while a meeting with a pair of British antiques hunters dramatically expands the scope of the investigation.
Inheriting a work of art by one of the great Impressionist masters should be a joy, but for Patrick Rice it was a mixed blessing. His small oil painting depicting a ballet dancer on stage has always been thought to be a work by Edgar Hilaire Degas. Unfortunately, since the 1970s, experts have not agreed. The painting, which could be worth around half-a-million pounds if it is a Degas, is currently worth £200. In a last ditch attempt to discover the truth, Patrick and his son Jonathan ask Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould to handle the case. Although bought as a Degas from a reputable London dealer in 1945 by Patrick's father, the painting, titled Danseuse Bleue et Contrebasses, failed to make the official record of Degas, the catalogue raisonne. As far as auction houses and experts are concerned, if it's not in the catalogue then it's not by Degas, and cannot be sold as such.