Prince Charles caught in up in fake art row at Scottish stately home

Prince Charles has become embroiled in a row over a £50m painting on loan to the East Ayrshire stately home he helped save for the nation amid allegations it is the work of a notorious art forger.
The paintings were on display at Dumfries House in East Ayrshire. Picture: Jane BarlowThe paintings were on display at Dumfries House in East Ayrshire. Picture: Jane Barlow
The paintings were on display at Dumfries House in East Ayrshire. Picture: Jane Barlow

The distinctive lily pad artwork, purportedly by Monet, was on display at Dumfries House, near Cumnock, the 18th century pile that serves as the headquarters of Charles’s flagship charity, The Prince’s Foundation.

It is among a host of paintings loaned to Dumfries House by the bankrupt financier James Stunt, the former husband of Formula One heiress, Petra Ecclestone. They include works supposedly by Picasso and Dali, worth around £42m and £12m respectively.

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Tony Tetro, who bills himself as “the world's greatest living art forger,” claims he painted a series of pictures in question and sold them to Mr Stunt on that basis.

Mr Tetro, who was previously sentenced to six months in prison for art forgery, told the Mail on Sunday: “You can impress your friends with my pictures, decorate your home with them, but they would never pass expert scrutiny.

“I’m told these pictures went to Dumfries House. There is no question about it: James knew they were mine.”

He added: “I don't want trouble, I don't want any part of this. This has got to be stopped now rather than later”

Mr Stunt has rejected claims any of the 17 artworks provided by him were counterfeit, telling the newspaper: “None of my stuff is fake.”

The Mail on Sunday reported that loan agreements indicate the three paintings by Monet, Picasso and Dali carry purported insurance valuations for a total of £104m.

It also said the documents include a claim the pieces were authenticated by the Wildenstein Institute in France, regarded as the world’s leading authority on Monet.

The Prince’s Foundation said that from “time to time” Dumfries House accepted artworks on loan from individuals as well as organisations such as the Scottish National Gallery.

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A spokesman said: “It is extremely regrettable that the authenticity of these particular paintings, which are no longer on display, now appears to be in doubt.

The foundation added that the number of paintings in question were “significantly less than 17." It did not elaborate on what specific paintings were in doubt.

Mr Tetro was previously arrested for art forgery involving works by Dali, Miro, Rockwell and Chagall, sold at a Los Angeles gallery for £75,000.

In court, he admitted painting the works but said he believed they would be sold as reproductions. He was sentenced to six months in prison. He was allowed to keep working as an artist as long as he made clear his copies were not originals.

He has since become an art expert, appearing on television shows such as BBC One’s Fake or Fortune.