Antiques Roadshow expert ‘cagey’ as he admits he can’t value artwork

Antiques Roadshow: Expert ‘evasive’ over value

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Art specialist Paul talked to a space enthusiast who had tracked him down at Birmingham’s Aston Hall, where the instalment of Antiques Roadshow was being filmed. The guest had an authenticated art piece which had been designed as a tribute to be left on the moon in honour of astronauts who had died in an effort to explore space. The artist made only four copies and, although Paul was impressed by the find, he was unable to value the piece and confessed he was being “cagey and evasive” on the popular BBC programme.

The guest was keen to know how much the cherished item would sell for at auction, and Paul was intrigued by the art.

“Simple question. Where were you in July 1969?” he asked the owner of the piece.

“I was at school following the space programme along with lots of other children I imagine.

“But unlike most of the children from my generation, they grew out of space and I didn’t.”

“So that moment, which we all remember if we’re old enough, it changed your life,” Paul stated.

“Yeah, I’ve been kind of hooked ever since really,” the guest replied.

Paul asked: “So, are you a space collector?” to which the owner joked: “Yes, nerd might be a better description.”

“I wasn’t going to say that,” Paul laughed as the guest explained his collection.

“But a collector definitely, yes,” he clarified. “Back in the day, they were literally throwing stuff away.

“Nowadays, I can’t afford most of it. So the collecting was many years ago for the most part.”

Turning to the artwork, Paul observed: “And this of the fallen astronaut.

“And he is, in effect, the only work of art on the moon. How did you get it?”

“Well, I spotted it online,” the space fanatic explained.

“So I bid on it and thankfully nobody else did. They didn’t believe it was genuine.”

Paul added: “Now, this is a sculptor called Paul Van Hoeydonck, who was Belgian.

“So he has a space passion and he thought, ‘I want to be the first to have a work of art done by me up there on the moon.’

“So in 1971, this is Apollo 15. NASA, who was very much in control of all this said, ‘We want a memorial to the, at that point, 14 astronauts and cosmonauts who lost their lives in the pursuit of space.’

“It has, as far as I understand it, three relatives – one on the moon.”

“Well, technically there were four,” the guest corrected Paul. He explained: “One on the moon, Van Hoeydonck owns one himself, the gallery, and that one.”

“So then you go to Van Hoeydonck, and he says it’s genuine?” Paul inquired.

The owner of the art responded: “Well, I sent details to Van Hoeydonck, who is thankfully still with us, and said, ‘What do you think Paul?’

“I went to his house and we talked about it for a couple of hours and he authenticated.”

“And he signs the lid as we’ve seen,” Paul pointed out.

“Space memorabilia is a booming market as you know. Until there is some sort of market establishment, in a way, the only way you can establish a value of that is to sell it on the open market, and then you will know what the world will pay for it.”

He continued: “The value is potentially huge, but absolutely unprovable until that moment.

“So you’ve either got to take that risk because there isn’t going to be another one, this is the only one that can be sold.”

Explaining his vague response, he told the guest: “You will think I’m being evasive and cagey, which I am because I don’t know the value. And whether we’re talking $1,000 or $50,000 – I haven’t a clue.

“And I’d rather be honest, but I mean, potentially, it is a hugely valuable object with the work that you’ve put into it.”

Understanding Paul’s situation, the guest decided: “In the meantime, I’ll stick it back in the bank vault.”

“It’s as close as I’ll ever get to the moon, I’m telling you that,” Paul concluded.

Antiques Roadshow is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

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