A STILL life painting thought to be an unearthed treasure has turned out to be worthless on BBC show Fake Or Fortune?

Bob Kay bought the depiction of fruit for just £1 in a bric-a-brac shop in Lymington in 1993 more than 30 years ago.

It was later thought to be a masterpiece by 20th century artist Giorgio de Chirico, and valued by art dealer and programme co-host Philip Mould at around £50,000.

During the episode of the BBC One show, which aired on Thursday August 8, Mr Kay said: “This was so distinct and vibrant and competent, and I thought it’s worth a pound.

“I didn’t know who the painting was by.

“A friend, an art dealer, he saw the painting and he mentioned the name Giorgio de Chirico.”

Mr Kay was urged by the auction house Christie’s more than 20 years ago to have the painting assessed by the Chirico Foundation.

Although most of the foundation’s committee thought it could be authentic, one person considered it a fake, and he hoped the TV programme would establish the truth.

Presenters Fiona Bruce and Mould submitted the painting to a nuclear laboratory in Florence. A tiny splinter of wood from the painting was tested for radioactive carbon to date it almost to the year.

Despite the materials being a good match, the Chirico Foundation concluded that the quality and brushstrokes were not consistent with the artist’s other work.

The committee which assessed the painting said that while there was “strong evidence”, they “were still not convinced” of the artwork’s authenticity.

Mould said that from “the composition, the way the fruit is organised, and the date of the picture – it all indicates someone who knew de Chirico, who worked closely with him, even if it wasn’t the master himself”.

The Greek-born painter was credited with influencing the Surrealists, and is the second most-forged Italian artist.

After discovering the true value, Mr Kay said: “That’s a pound I won’t get back.”

Fiona Bruce discovered the painting is not an original as she read out a letter to Mr Kay. “It’s not de Chirico. God, I am surprised. I am really sorry,” she said.

n Fake or Fortune? is on Thursdays, 9pm, on BBC One.