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Fake! TV show finds Merseysiders most eagle-eyed spotting forged paintings

Published 21/07/2016

TV's Giles Coren and art historian Rose Balston launch a treasure hunt for Fake! The Great Masterpiece Challenge
TV's Giles Coren and art historian Rose Balston launch a treasure hunt for Fake! The Great Masterpiece Challenge

The residents of Merseyside have the best eye for spotting a fake painting as 70% correctly guessed forgeries for a new Sky Arts show.

Research for the show revealed that animal and portrait paintings were the easiest fakes to identify but landscapes left sleuthing visitors stumped.

Millions of pounds worth of British masterpieces were swapped for forged copies at museums across the country.

It was part of a challenge for new TV show Fake! The Great Masterpiece Challenge, starring critic Giles Coren and art historian Rose Balston.

Eagle-eyed gallery visitors have been using their detective skills to spot the seven counterfeits hiding in plain sight on the walls of six galleries in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London and Manchester throughout July.

At the halfway point, Liverpool locals have had the best hit rate, with 70% correctly guessing the imposters among the 18th and 19th century animal paintings at Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery and nearly 60% spotting the fake Golden Age English Portrait at Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight, Wirral.

Proving Britons never forget a face, 41% also correctly uncovered the fake portrait in The Stuart Courts display at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.

But just 9% have pinpointed the fake LS Lowry or Adolphe Valette urban landscape at Manchester Art Gallery, while only 14% have pegged the forgery among masters such as J.M.W Turner and Richard Wilson at the National Museum Cardiff.

At Guildhall Art Gallery in London, only 16% of entrants have found the hidden fraud among scenes of Victorian life.

Phil Edgar-Jones, director of Sky Arts, said: "People are really getting up close to these wonderful paintings and having fun discovering the joys of British Artist.

"I'm impressed by the level of success in Merseyside - do they have a better eye for detail than the rest of the country?

"Scotland is also doing well, but there's still time for art spotters in London, Manchester and Cardiff to prove their powers of detection! It's a great activity to do with the kids in the holidays."

Guesses are submitted on the website so those who cannot reach all the galleries get a chance to enter.

The competition is open to all ages, and those who correctly guess the most fakes will compete to win a fake of their own at the final, hosted at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford in the new year.

The seven originals paintings will return to their galleries once the competition has ended in August.

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