The drama "Antiques Rogue Show" shown on the BBC yesterday explored the issue of the Amarna Princess sold to the Bolton Museum. One was left with the feeling that Shaun Greenhalgh, the forger, was (in the words of the reporter in the drama) "a gifted, bright kid" - but he came from the wrong place. Was Shaun a talented artist? And we hear the verdicts of the museum curator and the police officer.
The programme was introduced with a shot to the textual definition of "provenance". Central to the story was the acquisition of the catalogue of the sale of the Silver Park Collection ("Silverton Park: costly, rare and valuable antique furniture", Thompson, Rippon & Son, 1892). This appears to be a rare catalogue: only one copy is listed on WorldCat (in the Getty Research Library). The lot items were "all so vague" (to quote the actor playing Greenhalgh). And at the (fictional) police interview with Shaun the lead police officer suggests that the catalogue allowed the Greenhalghs "to make up a provenance".
Some questions remained unanswered. But the one that lingers was placed on the lips of a woman police officer briefing a reporter over a drink in a pub: how many Greenhalgh fakes are still out there unrecognised?