The British former banker, Jonathan Weal who filed for bankruptcy over £290,000 or $452,000 in unpaid debt, was seen discussing his £20 million ($31 million) J.M.W. Turner painting on British television – as reported by the Telegraph.
Unfortunately for the troubled former banker the insolvency examiner assigned to his bankruptcy case, Choy Mooi, was watching the program; during which Weal casually told ITV News that he had bought Turner’s Fishing Boats in a Stiff Breeze (1805) for £3,700 or $5,700 at auction in 2004, and that the painting was soon to being authenticated.
Which is an interesting fact in light of prosecutors alleging that, in 2012, as banker declared his insolvency, insurers valued his painting at £400,000 or $620,000). The insurance value, however, increased this value to £20 million or $31 million when it emerged that the artwork could indeed be a long-lost Turner.
Weal now faces two charges of fraudulent non-disclosure of property in relation to the bankruptcy proceedings.The court also heard that the former banker’s collection contained nine other potentially valuable works, including a pencil sketch by Pablo Picasso.
“On that very program the defendant was being interviewed with Fishing Boats in a Stiff Breeze, saying there was expert opinion that this was a painting by the famous Turner and possibly worth £20 million,” Mooi stated.
“Mr. Weal admitted he had believed the painting was a Turner since he first bought it in 2004 but said it was a ‘work in progress’ rather than an asset,” Mooi continued.
“[Weal’s] explanation that he believed the paintings had zero value and were disclosed by telling the official receiver that he owned only ‘second hand furniture’ is simply absurd,” Mooi concluded.