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23rd Jun 2024

Antiques Roadshow guest refuses to sell statues she discovered in skip after specialist’s warning

Ryan Price

The statues turned out to be of historical significance.

A guest on Antiques Roadshow shocked viewers when she refused to sell two valuable statues that she accidentally came across in a skip.

The woman stunned the show’s expert John Foster when she revealed that she found the busts in a skip at a Birmingham scrap dealer’s yard.

She said that she initially thought that they were just scrap metal, and clarified that she had permission to retrieve the statues from the skip, insisting: “I did not steal them”.

Foster recognised one of the figures as the President of Angola but was stumped by the identity of the other.

The guest joked: “Well, we took him out first, partly because he looks like my dad. So I like him because of that. But he is Captain Romeros and he was on the Portuguese side.

“He was administering the area when Angola was under the oppression of the Portuguese,” she added.

One statue bore the date 1930, while the other, depicting the President, was more recent and would have originally featured glasses.

The woman described how she took the statues home, cleaned them and displayed them in her garden in a similar way to garden gnomes.

“We used to have them in the garden and we used to have them looking at each other because they were traditional enemies,” she said.

The woman observed a curious phenomenon with her garden ornaments, noting how rays of sunshine or shadow play could alter their moods.

“Sometimes they [look like] they are glowering at each other, sometimes it looks like they are smiling.”

Foster valued the statue of the respected ex-president up to £1,500 at auction, while its companion piece ranged between £800 and £1,200.

“You’ve probably got a couple of thousand pounds there overall,” he declared.

While some viewers might have thought the woman would have jumped at the chance to make a couple of grand from two items she found in a skip, instead she emphatically stated that she wouldn’t be selling them.

The expert, who seemed to respect her determination, said: “Good, good. I wouldn’t sell them either.”

Things could have been a lot worse for the woman, as a couple of years ago a guest brought a statue from the Kota tribe from Gabon on to the show in the hopes of making a killing.

Antique expert Ronnie Archer-Morgan was initially enthused by the statue, and said: “When you unwrapped this, my heart really skipped a beat because it’s one of my favourite tribal African figures.”

(BBC iPlayer/Screenshot)

The member of the public revealed they had purchased the figure ten years ago at an Antiques Roadshow event in Cambridge, for the grand sum of £1.50.

Ronnie joked “You really took a risk, didn’t you,” with the guest replying: “Well, I was intrigued by the fact that it looked as if somebody had put a lot of work into making it.”

The expert then explained how the figure appeared to be from the Kota tribe from Gabon.

He said: “This is a Kota reliquary guardian figure and they put these on the bones of their ancestors to protect them and they polished this metal.

“And in the 19th century, they were brass and copper, this is just copper, the brass and copper were like gold to them. They’re so highly revered in the art world that they have one of these in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

(BBC iPlayer/Screenshot)

“They’re such iconic examples of African tribal art. They hammer the metal over the wood sculpture and then they chase the metal with these designs.

“And it’s the geometric form of them that makes them so desirable, and they influenced the greatest modern artists of all time because at the beginning of modernism, they are very, very sought-after.”

He then revealed that a few years ago, one of the statues sold for £250,000 at auction.

But the owner’s bubble was quickly burst when Ronnie broke the news to him that his statue was in fact just a “very fine copy.”

The expert could tell because it was “slightly the wrong size,” and said it was “probably made in about 1980.”

But it wasn’t all bad news for the member of the public, as the statue was still valued at £150, 100 times more than they paid for it.

So, a nice bit of spending money if they did decide to sell the figure. But sadly not the life-changing amount they may have briefly been dreaming of.