A ‘PICASSO’ painting bought for £230 at a car boot sale is genuine, says a man who claims he owned it.

It was feared The Seated Bather, expected to fetch up to £1 million at auction today, was a fake, after a master forger claimed to have painted it three years ago.


But as it goes up for sale at Brighton and Hove Auction Rooms today, an art collector has come forward to say it cannot have been made by the forger – because he owned it at the time.

Francis Kiss said the artwork was bought by him 13 years ago and he only lost it six months ago.

The 57-year-old said he purchased The Seated Bather from an antiques store in his home town of Chichester for £150 and had it on his wall for more than a decade.

He had given it to a friend to take to France to find Picasso’s family and prove it was genuine.

But when the artist’s family could not be reached, the painting was then passed to another friend who sold it at a car boot sale after a misunderstanding.

It was sold to Philip Stapleton, an antiques collector from Crawley, for £230 and he took it to Brighton and Hove Auction Rooms.

Master forger David Henty had claimed that he painted the piece, saying he “gave it away three years ago”. But Mr Kiss has now been in to the auction house to prove the piece was his, saying he has a photo of it hanging on his wall and a receipt from the purchase in 2006.

The auction house now says it is using this information to prove the painting is genuine and has already taken a number of bids for it from collectors around the world.

Mr Kiss said that he will not try to get the painting back but is upset about what has happened.

He said: “I am not happy with how it’s been settled. I only found out on Saturday about the auction. I’m not battling with them.


“Mr Stapleton bought it in good faith.”

“It cannot be a forgery by David Henty, I have always believed it to be an original – the hard part has been trying to get it authenticated.”

Brighton and Hove Auction Rooms said that Mr Stapleton had been made aware of the last minute revelation and “is very grateful to Mr Kiss for coming forward with the background information”.

They were also grateful that Mr Henty’s claims the painting is his have been rebuffed.

The ‘Picasso’ Painted Bather piece goes on sale at 1.30pm today.

Visit www.the-saleroom.com for more information.